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Former SEAL comes out as transgender

Jun. 4, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The cover of 'Warrior Princess,' published by Advance Press, is the memoir of a Navy SEAL coming out transgender.
The cover of 'Warrior Princess,' published by Advance Press, is the memoir of a Navy SEAL coming out transgender. (Advance Press via USA Today)
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In the super-secret world of the Navy SEAL, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Chris Beck carried around an explosive secret of his own during 20 years with the elite, all-male unit: He’s transgender.

In the memoir “Warrior Princess,” published Tuesday, retired SEAL Kristin Beck — formerly Chris — writes about life struggling with his sexual identity — and coming out.

The 46-year-old Beck, who retired from SEAL Team 6 only months before it raided Osama bin Laden’s hideout, explains that she decided to undergo hormonal therapy some time after leaving the service in 2011.

Beck served 20 years as a SEAL, including seven combat deployments, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star with “V” device.

Beck served with East Coast-based SEAL teams from November 2004 until her retirement on February 2011.

As The Atlantic Wire notes, Kristin, who works as a military consultant in Florida, decided to come out by posting a new picture of herself dressed as a woman on her LinkedIn profile.

“I am now taking off all my disguises and letting the world know my true identity as a woman,” Beck wrote.

In the memoir, Beck notes the irony of one mission as a SEAL in which he is disguised as an Afghan man to blend in with female-hating Taliban men.

“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!”

The book is dedicated to his family, to the “underdogs, the activists, the downtrodden,” and to his SEAL teammates, to whom he offers a personal message: “I am still the same person with the same experience and the same spirit.”

The memoir, published by Advance Press, notes that Beck has been married twice and has two sons, but removed himself from their life because of his frequent deployments and a wish to avoid dealing with his own issues.

The book includes some reactions from his former team members, including praises for Beck’s courage in the forward, which was written by former boss, retired SEAL and astronaut William Shepherd.

Other comments from former SEAL teammates:

• “Being a SEAL is hard. This looks harder.”

• “I am thankful that your decision was to confront your challenges rather than, as you stated in your own words, ‘put a shotgun in your mouth.’ ”

• “You’re a Team Guy, first and foremost, and you always will be. I’ll drink a beer with you anytime, anywhere, for any reason, no matter how you are dressed ... especially if you are buying.”

Beck’s co-author is Anne Speckhard, an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, whose has specialized in post-traumatic stress and counterterrorism.

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