Chelsea Manning to give Hampshire College commencement speech

Manning previously disclosed classified documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but his prison sentence of 35 years was commuted by President Obama in 2017.

Hampshire College, a liberal arts school in Amherst, Massachusetts, will be hosting Chelsea Manning, a convicted leaker of classified military information to be its 2024 keynote commencement speaker.

“Hampshire College’s 2024 Commencement ceremony, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 18, will feature keynote speaker Chelsea E. Manning, a vocal advocate for government transparency and queer and transgender rights,” the college announced in January.

Previously referred to as Bradley, Manning was reportedly charged with violating the Espionage Act after disclosing alleged human rights abuses by the American military to WikiLeaks beginning in 2009. While imprisoned from 2010-2017, Manning successfully lobbied the U.S. government to permit him to ‘transition’ and undergo hormone therapy.

[RELATED: Wheaton College offers scholarship to students with ‘proven service to’ the ‘LGBTQ+ community’]

According to the college’s website, students nominated speakers for the commencement speaker. Graduating students then voted for the speaker they preferred.

“Upon being sentenced to 35 years in prison for her actions — an unprecedented amount of time for the charges alleged — she publicly identified as a trans woman and asserted her legal rights to medical therapy,” the college writes. “After she served seven years in military prison, President Barack Obama commuted her sentence to time served.”

“Chelsea E. Manning is a former all-source intelligence analyst for the U.S. Defense Department,” his personal website states. “She writes extensively for The Guardian and on Medium about issues like transparency, free speech, civil liberties, queer and trans rights, and computer security, as well as her own life and experience.”

In 2017, Manning wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times critiquing President Trump’s attempt to remove transgender-identifying people from the military.

“Terrible discriminatory laws targeting trans people are proposed all across the country, and now the commander in chief of the armed forces is propagating lies about us, dehumanizing us and taking away our health care and employment,” Manning wrote.

In the same article, Manning specifically condemned the decision for being based upon “bias and prejudice,” as well as “systemic discrimination.” Manning also dismissed claims about the significant expenses of providing health care to transgender-identifying individuals.

[RELATED: ‘The power of queer peership’: Colgate University holds segregated ‘Lavender Graduation’ for LGBTQ-identifying students]

“Like the integration of people of color and women in the past, this was a sign of progress that threatens the social order, and the president is reacting against that progress,” he wrote.

Campus Reform has contacted Hampshire College for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.