The trans Navy SEAL who (almost) helped catch bin Laden

A neat story about a Navy SEAL, Chris Beck, who was part of an elite all-male team that, shortly after Beck retired, went on to kill Osama bin Laden.  And now Chris Beck is Kristin Beck, a transgender woman.

Many people don’t realize that although the Pentagon has lifted the ban on gay service members, transgender service members are still banned, and thus forced to live in the same closet that gay service members lived in.

Here’s Beck’s new book about her coming out, cutely titled “Warrior Princess,” and below that is the photo Beck posted on LinkedIn to finally come out as a woman:

Kristin-Beck-book-bin-laden

Kris-trans-woman-who-helped-catch-bin-laden

Here’s the description of the book on Amazon (Kindle version, and paperback):

Chris Beck played high school football. He bought a motorcycle, much to his mother’s dismay, at age 17. He grew up to become a U.S. Navy SEAL, serving our country for twenty years on thirteen deployments, including seven combat deployments, and ultimately earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. To everyone who saw him, he was a hero. A warrior. A man.

But underneath his burly beard, Chris had a secret, one that had been buried deep inside his heart since he was a little boy—one as hidden as the panty hose in the back of his drawer. He was transgender, and the woman inside needed to get out.

This is 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.

Kristin’s story of boy to woman explores the tangled emotions of the transgender experience and opens up a new dialogue about being male or female: Is gender merely between your legs or is it something much bigger?

It’s always been amazing how coming out stories like this helped turn the tide on the gays in the military battle, and it’s good to see good trans stories coming out now as well.  After all, you can’t do better than an elite Navy Seal who, but for her early retirement, might have been assigned to the team that got bin Laden.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • vicentewakk

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    weapon and is subsequently is classified in this category. http://www.efkfiredragon.com/

  • Sweetie

    For you the rule of law is clearly a pretext.

  • Sweetie

    Are you kidding? Of course they did. One does not accidentally shoot an unarmed person.

  • d3clark

    Thanks, Kristin, for your service and for what you’re doing now.

    When I first heard this news, I wondered how people would react to it. A hypermasculine-appearing SEAL, transforming into a woman who is seeking peace. It may still change some peoples’ ideas of gender identity.

    I looked at this story on several sites to get a feel for what people were posting. Unfortunately, many people were posting hateful comments. It’s bad enough that they want to disrespect Kristin for her gender reassignment, but to also berate her after two decades of exemplary service, including combat, really made me livid. I’m sure that many of these are people who have “Support Our (STRAIGHT) Troops” on bumper stickers on their cars. These are people who would have LOVED Kristin’s book if Kristin had stayed Chris and had written about his SEAL experience. I can hear them now, after having read it. Sitting around, talking with their buds saying, “That Chris is one badass motherf*cker. Hope my boy grows up like that!” But because Kristin is now a little lighter below the waist and a little heavier above it, their opinions have done a 180 degree shift.

  • Stev84

    According to “No Easy Day” that’s wrong. The author makes a point out of saying that Bin Laden was complacent and hadn’t even loaded his guns:

    “Before I left, I noticed a shelf that ran above the door. It was just above where he was standing when we got to the third deck. I slid my hand up and felt two guns, which turned out to be an AK-47 and a Makarov pistol in a holster. I took each weapon down and pulled out the magazine and checked the chambers. They were both empty.
    He hadn’t even prepared a defense. He had no intention of fighting. He asked his followers for decades to wear suicide vests or fly planes into buildings, but didn’t even pick up his weapon. […]
    Did he believe his own message? Was he willing to fight the war he asked for? I don’t think so. Otherwise, he would have at least gotten his gun and stood up for what he believed. There is no honor in sending people to die for something you won’t even fight for yourself.”

  • Stev84

    They actually were actually advised by a lawyer to not shoot him if he was unarmed and if he could be subdued. You are right, that killing him was more convenient, but they didn’t go there to assassinate him at all costs.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I am not going after her John and that is a cheap shot! I think it is an excellent opportunity to speak out on sexual abuse….especially after being in an elite unit of SEALS. Nor, am I suggesting that she has not done a ‘great thing’ for the community. You seem to have missed the point entirely.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh I don’t know. I think she’s done quite enough advocacy for one day already. You try coming out trans after 20 years in the military, then get back to me about how you haven’t proven you’ve got balls, or ovaries, or something. I think you’re mixing apples and oranges, going after someone who’s clearly doing a great thing for her community, when at this point she deserves our applause, period, IMHO :)

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I’ll just pretend you meant to uprate my comment. Thanks! :)

    There are lots of upsetting violations of habeas going on with respect to the “war on terror” but the killing of a foreign national overseas in response to a massive terrorist attack isn’t one of them

  • Alan Weiss

    Kristin Beck is a genuine American heroine, and now her service to her country goes beyond “just” the military and Seal Team Six: it goes to changing hearts and minds to STRENGTHEN this nation. Because, in the end, we are all stronger when this country can use the talents of every individual, NO MATTER WHAT.

    She is very, very brave on at least two fronts! It would be such an honor to meet Kristin Beck.

  • Sweetie

    Stupid Disqus iPhone bugs. It uprated your when I tried to get the invisible reply button to show up. And, I have to use notepad to type the text because it will not let me type into the Disqus posting panel.

    Anyway I am not surprised that you have no problem with it since habeas corpus is only the foundation of our rule of law.

  • Sweetie

    He was unarmed. The initial claims about him being armed were the typical lies that are told to try to evade accountability.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    There’s some sense in that — it’s a lot easier to get a dead body out of a hostile zone undetected than a live person who doesn’t want to go. I agree that it wasn’t like they had no choice, but I don’t have a big problem with going in there to whack the guy.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I know this comment will not go down easy, but here it is. I have considerable respect for the transgender journey. It takes incredible courage and fortitude to realize an authentic identity, especially for trans women in a testosterone, macho driven culture like the SEALS. I cannot support nor will ever support dythrambic praise for professional assassins, snipers and professional killers, except in conditions of actual field operations under fire. If Kristin B wants my respect let her use this sensational platform to speak out about the tsunami wave of sexual abuse, rape and misogynistic disrespect against women soldiers, sailors and flyers. Otherwise I’m not buying this feel good story.

  • Naja pallida

    And you don’t suppose the SEALs had the foresight to realize that was most likely to happen, nor the ability subdue him anyway? Sorry, but they clearly went in there with orders to shoot first, and ask questions later. The administration just had no concept of how to deal with a living bin Laden in US custody. His trial would have served as a rallying cry to every jihadist wannabe across the globe, and the eyes of every other country would have scrutinized our every legal and political move over it. To the point where we could have done nothing right, and been criticized endlessly regardless of how we handled it. The idea that our most elite fighting force had absolutely no choice but to shoot him in the head is ridiculous. They followed orders. And their orders were to give the administration the easiest and fastest resolution possible.

  • trinu

    He chose to grab a gun and shoot at the SEALS rather than surrendering. At that point they had a right to defend themselves and their country.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Good for her.

    I’ve had the honor to meet and get to know several transgendered folks over the years, MtF and FtM both, and invariably they’re some of the toughest, bravest souls I’ve ever encountered. And also often the kindest.

  • Sweetie

    Who cares about the Bin Laden angle? He should have been arrested and tried, so I’d rather not have anyone who is supposed to be a role model involved in his murder.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    This is a great story (and love the Xena-inspired book title.)

    Why exaggerate though? Navy Seals are among the toughest people around, and Seal Team 6 is the cream of the cream. But they didn’t all “(almost) help catch bin Laden” just by virtue of being members around that time.

  • Butch1

    Good on her! All these cowardly chicken hawks who hide behind their computers who bravely point fingers and deride gays, and transgendered people knowing nothing about what they spew out their brainless fingers, couldn’t polish this woman’s shoes considering what she has been through during her twenty years of serving her country.

    She has had to “walked the walk” suffering in silence just like gays have had to do during this DADT nonsense only to have to continue it because she is not covered by our reprieve of this most stupid and discriminatory of laws.

    Perhaps, our government will catch up and realize the phenomena of a person having one identity living in the body of another sex and that identity wanting to try and match physically who they really are and that it is normal to do so and not strange to want to. The Armed Forces have always been the last institution to join with the changing times and usually has had to be forced to do so as we have seen many times over because of the unmoving Brass running it. I think this will happen as well with transgendered folks as well in time. The public needs to be exposed to them and educated as well just like they were to us. It will happen.

  • cole3244

    the inside of the person is always more compelling than the outside.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bj.lincoln Bj Lincoln

    First, I’d like to thank Kristin for her years of service to our country. It is something to be proud of.
    Second, thank you for writing about your journey to become the woman you were ment to be.
    I know your story will give hope and understanding to those who need it.
    Until I met my friend, I had no idea how hard being transgender was. He lived with us for almost 2 years which gave us plenty of time to understand most of his journey. My wife and I have “adopted” this young man after watching him change and grow into the wonderful man he was is today.
    Good luck and know there are good people in this world full of love.

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