ChrisBeck, a former Navy Seal, is an acute example. Beck, recently revealed that in 2011, he had began a gender transformation to become a woman, and is now, Krisin Beck. According to ABC New, for 20 years, Beck served as an enlisted petty officer in the elite Navy Seals, participating in seven warzone deployments, awarded a Bronze Star, and a Purple Heart — as well as a tour in Seal Team Six, the secretive unit that went on to kill Ossama bin Laden. Born and raised as Chris Beck, she was a man’s man — a football player, avid motorcyclist, and war hero. Transgender helped this former Navy Seal gain back control over her life.
Turbulence inside of Beck forced her to take a leap of faith and write a memoir entitled “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’S Journey To Coming Out Transgender.” By means of pen and paper, she managed to fly over the criticism of any critics in work life and personal life and strive towards that inner peace for which we all search.
Some may attribute Beck’s bravery to a high self-esteem, or feeling good about oneself. Darrel C. Green and Paula J.Britton would agree. They recently wrote an article in the Journal of Counseling and Development entitled, “The Influence of Forgiveness on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Individuals’ Shame and Self-Esteem.”
The former Navy SEAL’S transition from man to woman, and from closeted to out, is a transition period many LGBT individuals encounter when looking to gain control back over their lives. Self-esteem’s theoretical importance is underscored by extensive evidence of relationships between high self-esteem and happiness, and low self-esteem and mental health problems, especially depression and concomitant shame, according to Green and Britton. Beck, herself, states she had “feelings of unease with her male identity since she ‘was a little boy.'”
Green and Britton state that recent studies have recommended the development of counselor advocacy competencies to assist minority clients, including sexual and gender identity minorities, in the development of greater self-empowerment toward the goal of challenging discriminatory social, economic, and political practices and policies. And as of last week, the Navy agreed to change another transgender veteran’s sex on her permanent records, which as ABC news put it, is an “unprecedented move”. We won’t go so far as to say Beck, alone, is the source of this change of attitude from the military departments, however, people like her and their stories have changed the inner workings of the most masculine organization in our country. It’s sure to have relieved the minds of many struggling with this issue of acceptance.
According to Green and Britton, although negative attention to these qualities may elicit shame reactions, in general, individuals who are shame prone are thought to experience shame more intensely as evidence of a “bad self,” thereby heightening feelings of humiliation, worthlessness, and disgrace. It has been argued that shame proneness may be a primary source of low self-esteem.
Along with shame proneness, forgiveness may also influence LGBT self-esteem, says Green and Britton. “When people forgive, their responses toward (or, in other words, what they think of, feel about, want to do, or actually do to) people who have offended or injured them become more positive and less negative”. Simply, self-forgiveness is a forgiving of the self by the self for personal transgressions, whereas other forgiveness entails forgiveness of another for transgressions directed against an individual within an interpersonal context. Finally, situation forgiveness suggests the construction of a new narrative wherein “the implications of the original situation are cast in a new light”, says Green and Britton.
As recently stated on Twitter, Beck has begun “working towards my own peace as a woman.”
In Green and Britton’s terms, self-forgiveness is essential for establishing self-affirming identities, thereby interrupting shame. ‘We can forgive ourselves for how we’ve been crippled by [LGBTQ] shame, but once we begin to come out of shame, we can forgive our past powerlessness, the years spent in the closet, the lies we told, the people we have hurt by our dishonesty and fear’.
LGBT individuals may come to a level of forgiveness of others and forgiveness of situations of stigmatization by reaching a stage of openness to differences within the heterosexual community and through an appreciation of shared values, according to Green and Britton.
As Vet. Autumn Sandeen told local reporters, “I feel like we should be able to serve openly because we are physically able to serve openly, It’s not a disorder.” It’s this sense of capability and self-respect, of letting go old stereotypes and prejudices, which Green and Britton attest will bring these women inner peace and acceptance of themselves.
And, so we find that people like former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck and Vet. Autumn Sandeen have turned the idea of self-control on its head: sometimes by releasing control of the perception others may have of us in life, and asserting ourselves, we take back control of our lives. Transgender helped this former Navy Seal.