Activists have been lobbying for President Obama to commute the 35-year sentence of United States Army analyst’s Chelsea Manning for months now, and today he did just that.
Manning infamously leaked information to the now well-known site WikiLeaks, and has been serving time for this violation of the Espionage Act. Her situation has been even more difficult given her status as a transgender woman in need of gender reassignment surgery to alleviate her dysphoria — a condition heightened by the fact that she has been held in an all-male prison since 2013. She has been placed in solitary confinement and attempted suicide along with a hunger strike since her imprisonment. In Obama’s new commutation of her sentence, Manning will be released on Wednesday, May 17th 2017.
The music industry is just one of the many arenas that has been reckoning with transgender identity and gender fluidity, and many musicians have already pledged their support of Chelsea and her plight, including Michael Stipe and Thurston Moore. Last fall Moore, along with drummer Ryan Sawyer and the UK-based members of Thurston Moore Group: bass player Deb Googe (also of My Bloody Valentine) and guitarist James Sedwards (also of Nøught) collaborated on a song dedicated to Chelsea called “Chelsea’s Kiss,” with proceeds partially going directly to the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
That song is above, and today seems like a good time to listen to the track, doesn’t it? The song was released on special edition cassette which is currently sold out, but maybe in light of the news another batch will be unveiled. Either way, you can listen above.
If you or someone you know are in need of help or support dealing with issues related to gender identity, you’re not alone. Resources are available for you via the Trans Lifeline or the Trevor Project.