If you would have met Chris Beck back when he was a Navy SEAL you would have thought he was an ordinary guy. To everyone around him, he was a warrior, a fighter and also a hero. Albeit living up to all those titles, he also struggled with a secret that he tucked away deep inside himself. He wasn't actually Chris, he was Kristin.
In his tell-all book Warrior Princess Beck reveals that just like the the panty hose hidden in the back of his drawer, while he was serving in the military, he was concealing the fact that he was actually transgender.
In what has been called "one of the smartest and most important books of the year," the retired Navy SEAL explains that her journey hasn't been painless. Kristin Beck, formerly known as Chris Beck, served her country for than 20 years but she was never able to share her secret with anyone within the military. She was deployed 13 times and fought in seven combat deployments being honored with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for her outstanding work.
Beck's book tells the "journey of a girl in a man’s body and her road to self-actualization as a woman amidst the PTSD of war, family rejection and our society’s strict gender rules and perceptions. It is about a fight to be free inside one’s own body, a fight that requires the strength of a Warrior Princess."
Hopefully, Kristin's story empowers others to speak about their experience and encourages others to welcome those stories with acceptance, not fear. She's committing to creating safer spaces for the LGBT community and for all servicemen and women. The author's commitment to the latter cause is exemplified by her tireless work for Healing Grounds, a non-profit organization she founded to offer support for returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans through a gardening and nursery program.
Although many hailed the repealing of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) as a victory for all LGBT people, most don't know that for those who are transgender, the discriminatory policy lives on. Because of "psychological and medical restrictions," anyone who identifies as transgender is still currently banned from serving in the armed forces and risks being fired for coming out.
Kristin's story is already making waves and let's hope it doesn't go unnoticed. It should remind the Pentagon and high-level officials that discriminating against heroes who want to serve in the military and defend our country is not just unfair, it's cruel. We've only just (finally) acknowledged the detrimental effects of intolerant policies for gays, lesbians and bisexual members of the military. How long will it take for us to recognize the harms we are doing to those who are transgender too?
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Editor's note: the pronouns used in this piece reflect those used by the Kristin in her book description.