On Jan. 17, former President Obama granted clemency to Chelsea Manning, a transgender woman formerly known as Bradley. The army private leaked classified documents to WikiLeaks and was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, but will now be released in May.
Manning’s sentence was the longest of anyone who has been incarcerated for leaking information to the media. Her pardon sparked controversy, as many believe her actions endangered the lives of others.
House Speaker Paul Ryan protested Obama’s actions by stating that “Manning’s treachery put America’s lives at risk.”
Online video host Tomi Lahren voiced her dissent of the commutation stating that Manning is a traitor and her hormone therapy was payed for by taxpayers.
However, Lahren failed to acknowledge that as a transgender woman in an all-male prison, Manning was treated differently than anyone convicted of a similar crime. Manning was placed in solitary confinement, and was unconstitutionally denied transition-related healthcare. Her experience in prison showcases the discrimination against the transgender community, as well as issues within the criminal justice system. The refusal of political commentators such as Lahren to call Manning a woman points to the greater issue of acceptance of the transgender community – especially those who face incarceration.
Manning claims that Obama has saved her life by granting her clemency.