A former Navy Seal has come out as transgender, revealing his true identity as a woman. Kristin Beck, 46, formally known as Chris Beck, served as a US Navy Seal for 20 years, ending her term in 2011.
On Saturday, June 1, Beck came out with her memoir, “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy Seal’s Journey To Coming Out Transgender.”
Many believe that the military represents the ultimate masculine feat. So what does it mean when a “man’s man,” with a scruffy beard and armed with killing machines, comes out as a woman? How does this challenge conventions of masculinity and femininity? And what does it say about gender as a whole?
Beck was a part of the exclusive all-male unit sent on a mission to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Beck underwent 13 deployments in different countries around the globe; it was during her 20 year career in the military that her female identity surfaced.
At the time of Beck’s retirement in 2011, she decided to undergo hormone therapy and reveal her secret to the world – starting with LinkedIn, where she posted a newly updated profile picture of herself with long hair, a smooth face and dressed in women’s clothes. On her profile page, Kristin wrote, “I am now taking off all my disguises and letting the world know my true identity as a woman.”
This picture was shocking to her Navy Seal confidants to say the least. Some were so surprised that they thought it was a joke. However, once Beck confirmed that it was no joke, a rush of supportive messages from her Seal buddies flooded her inbox.
“ … 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. 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…” read one message from her LinkedIn page, as reported by the Atlantic Wire.
After the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed in 2011, there was a cultural shift towards accepting gays, lesbians, and bisexuals in the military. However, this policy did not extend to the transgender community, most likely because it simply wasn’t thought about in the same breath.
Unfortunately, transgender people being overlooked is a common issue when discussing concerns within the LGBT community. Or, perhaps it is more accurate to say the LGB… and… T community; where transgender is tacked on at the end of the acronym but readily deemed invisible.
Although, transgender individuals are barred from entering the military, perhaps the bravery of Kristin Beck’s “Warrior Princess” will, at the very least, create transgender visibility in the military.