Kristin Beck, 46, is just an ordinary woman. She’s an author who’s written a brand new memoir entitled Warrior Princess. She’s even described by her co-author as “healthy, normal, a next-door neighbor person.” The only thing about Beck that some might find a bit unusual is that she used to be a man named Chris, and she wasn’t always an author; she spent 20 years as an elite Navy SEAL and boasts an impressive and distinguished career in an all-male unit.
Beck knew she was transgendered from the time she was small, but had to take careful steps to hide her true identity. Once when deployed in Iraq, her assignment included growing a large beard so she could blend in with the Taliban. She discusses this “double disguise” in her new book- she felt she was already in disguise as a man: “It was weird that I could grow a beard and trick them into thinking I was one of them – and really I’m an Amazon woman in disguise as a U.S. military guy in disguise as a Pashtun!”
She could not reveal herself as a woman because the military’s policy at the time was “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”; a policy that did not include protection for transgendered people, and although that rule has been repealed, service by transgendered people is currently not allowed by the military. Had Beck been open about who she was, she would not have had the opportunity to serve and she would not be allowed to serve currently if she had been born a woman because women are not accepted as SEALs. Still, she looks forward to the “inevitable” day when that will change and she can return to service there to be a mentor and trainer to other female members of the SEAL team.
Since leaving the military, where she earned awards including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, she has worked as a military consultant. Her decision to “come out” and live as a woman was surprising to her former co-workers, but she has enjoyed their enthusiastic support since assuring them that her decision was not in jest. Some of her colleagues have even stated that her decision may even be more difficult and courageous than serving as a SEAL.
Beck’s parents, though, are far more reluctant to accept her new identity, a challenge she writes about in Warrior Princess. The book is available from Advance Press and was published in June of 2013.
Written By: Rebecca Savastio
Sources: USA Today, The Virginian Pilot