The Navy SEALS were created to be extraordinary. Even before SEAL Team 6 raided Osama bin Laden's compound and killed the terrorist leader, they were legends. Formed during World War II as the Navy's, and the nation's, most elite team of defenders, the SEALS were the best of the best, and they were always men. Chris Beck was one of those men.
Described as a "consummate guy's guy," Beck fought for two decades, over 13 deployments, six in combat zones, earning a Purple heart and a Bronze star for heroism along the way, all the while quietly suppressing his true identity. Now, two years after retiring, Chris is no more, for Beck's finally living as the woman trapped inside that SEAL, Kristen Beck.
"[Retirement] seemed the right time to go for it -- to make his body match his identity -- or at least start by dressing like a woman in his regular life," Beck writes in her new memoir, Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming Out Transgender, co-written with Georgetown University professor Anne Speckhard, Ph.D, a specialist in PSTD and terrorism.
Wartime, the book explains, was not the time for Beck to accept the woman he always knew he had inside of him. He wanted instead to serve his country. "[Chris] had considered living as the woman he felt himself to be for a very long time, but while he was serving as a SEAL he couldn't do it," the book reads. "For years Chris had turned off his sexuality like a light switch and lived as a warrior, consumed with the battle -- living basically asexual. For Chris the other SEALs were brothers and in the man's man warrior lifestyle."
Now living in St. Perersburg, Florida, and living as a woman, Ms. Beck has transformed her private garden into a public space for wounded veterans. It's called "Healing Grounds" and she hopes they can pace she hopes they can find the peace she's found for herself. "Sitting in my back yard or at my fishpond I no longer feel anger, resentment or depression; I feel peace. I want to give this option of a 'peace garden' to my veteran brothers and sisters,' she writes on her website. "We fought on the battlegrounds for freedom and the American way of life, now it’s time to be welcomed home to a 'Healing Ground.'"
She writes in her book that she hopes her story will inspire younger generations to "live your life fully and to treat each other with compassion, be good to each other, especially in your own backyard."