A former U.S. Navy SEAL is revealing her identity as a woman in a new memoir titled Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender. Kristin Beck, formerly known as Chris Beck, writes that during her 20 years with the military’s most elite group she had to suppress her transgender identity.
But after her retirement from military service in 2011–a few months before the SEAL’s capture of Osama bin Laden–Beck began hormonal therapy and came out to colleagues by posting a photo of herself as a woman on LinkedIn. ”I am now taking off all my disguises and letting the world know my true identity as a woman,” Beck wrote on LinkedIn.
Because “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” banned gays from openly serving in the military, Beck had to keep her transgender identity a secret. Although the policy was repealed in 2011, transgendered men and women are still banned from serving.
“Born Chris Beck, Kris spent the first part of her adult life as a natural male working as a U.S. Navy SEAL,” Anne Speckhard, a research psychologist who co-authored the aubiography with Beck writes. “Chris suppressed the angst of feeling that he was a female in a male’s body during that time (twenty years of service to our country) as he earned his way into the toughest male profession that exists and served on thirteen deployments around the world.”
Even during active duty, Beck acknowledged a growing realization that she was meant to live her life as a woman. “After multiple combat deployments–more than many SEALs ever encounter, Chris returned back alive to fight this deeper battle in his soul and grappled with the moral and social decisions of living in secret or to transition into her true self,” Speckhard writes.
After changing her appearance and name, Beck found that her fellow SEAL brothers responded with astounding support.
“Brother, I am with you … being a SEAL is hard, this looks harder. Peace,” wrote someone.
“I can’t say I understand the decision but I respect the courage. Peace and happiness be upon you,” wrote another.
“I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that Kris has all the support and respect from me that Chris had … and quite possibly more,” states yet another soldier. “While I’m definitely surprised, I’m also in amazement at the strength you possess and the courage necessary to combat the strangers and ‘friends’ that I’m guessing have reared their ugly heads prior to and since your announcement …”
In her dedication, Beck writes, “To my SEAL brothers for the twenty years of Teams and S*** and the many missions we did during the wars. I am still the same person with the same experience and the same spirit.”
Beck says her primary reason for writing a memoir was to “reach out to all of the younger generation and encourage you to live your life fully and to treat each other with compassion.” She reiterated the same message through Twitter.
“You don’t have to be a SEAL to be a hero, we all become heroes in our own backyards by treating EVERYONE with dignity and compassion.”-Beck
— Kristin Beck (@healinggrounds) June 4, 2013
Beck is the founder of Healing Grounds, a non-profit organization that offers support for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans through landscaping. According to LinkedIn and the book’s introduction, Beck currently works at the Rapid Reaction Technology Office for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.