Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June Book of the Month; Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender


Warrior Princess, retired Navy SEAL Kristen Beck-formerly Chris

By Sabrina Samone

In 2011, as the ban on gays and lesbians was lifted to serve openly in the military, the transgender ban remains to this day, largely in part due to the psychiatric manuals continuing to list gender identity issues as a mental disorder, thankfully that all changed this year in May. The issue of transgender people having the right to serve openly in the military is heating up, but with a Republican controlled Congress, I doubt anything in our favor, much less anyone not in the top 1% wealthiest Americans, will see them act on anything, unless we as a community  practice our right of freedom and vote them out. 

Many Trans-men and Women have risked and given their lives for a freedom that is denied them in this country, as so many in history has done. In the forties, African-American men fought alongside every other American, only to come back to this country and be told to use the back door.  For years openly gay men and women were mistreated by the military, kicked out with dishonorable discharges, spied on or worse, faced physical discrimination within the military and lost their lives at the hands of…one of our own. Barry Winchell lost his life at the hands of another American Marine on July, 6 1999, during the Don’t ask, Don’t tell” era, for openly dating a transgender woman.

We have been serving, under cover mostly, in a body that does not match our own Identity for years. A Trans-male friend has told me, after serving our country heroically in 3 combat tours in Bosnia and Iraq, served his time, yet stood up for everyone else’s freedom and re-enlisted, but this time in the National Guard. He was expecting to spend one weekend a month on duty. He had already begun to transition from female to male, when he was activated and sent to Iraq, for 19 months he fought two battles one for his country and the other within himself as he was forced to returned to identifying as a  female for 19 more months of his life, after nearly tasting his own personal freedom for the first time. His freedom by the military and many Americans (who claim to support our troops) denied him of his own freedom, while he risked his life, physically and mentally for ours. Unfortunately as so many soldiers come home and discover, they now suffer from PTSD.

A close trans-female friend of mine also spent an entire career in the military as a Navy SEAL. She raised a family and took upon herself one of the toughest military jobs possible to suppress her feminine spirit.  As many of us know how impossible that is to do, eventually could no longer and would come to also embrace her feminine spirit in her early 40’s. It would cost her, her marriage, a strained relationship with her two daughters to this day and mistreatment within the VA hospital system because of her gender identity.

Last month, Autumn Sandeen, became the first transgender veteran to have their military documents changed. The struggle has begun for Transgender awareness in the US military. Slowly we are seeing new topics being placed on the table for discussion, for the acceptance, of Transgender Military Personnel as we’ve seen for LGB people. There are hopes that the U.S. will join seven other countries in allowing transgender troops. One of those topics on the table is the new highly publicized new memoir by Kristin Beck & Anne Speckhard PhD, “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender

Chris Beck played high school football, he bought motor cycles, he served our country for twenty years in thirteen deployments, including seven of those in heavy combat. By all measures of American society, he was as red blooded and American as apple pie and Friday night football, but underneath a feminine spirit wept to be free. The novel details Chris now Kristin Beck, as an all American Christian boy who grew up on a farm in Middle America. In her world as a boy, she was viewed as a hero…warrior…a man. She spent decades hiding the wholeness of who she was. After her retirement in 2011 she transitioned and felt as she describes in the novel, a weight was lifted from her. She dedicates her book to all those who identify as transgender but who might have difficulty revealing their true selves. Her hope is to bring about change.

Earlier this year, on her LinkedIn profile, she put up a new profile picture for the first time as her whole self, standing in front of the American Flag. She has received praise from fellow SEAL’s stationed around the world for her courage. If these honorable, self sacrificing men and women can acknowledge her, what is wrong with the leaders of our country? How many more Kristin Beck’s are there holding a riffle, an American flag and crying themselves to sleep at night.

If we are a country that supports our troops, and Conservative Republicans act as if they have a monopoly on supporting our troops, then why aren’t we? Letting our troops fight with dignity and self respect, being who they are, loving whom they choose would give a human being more courage and bravery than not, we may be the most powerful nation in the history of  mankind but we could be even more, if we could only let our own people be, free.


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