Navy SEAL Comes Out as Transgender

Chris Beck spent 20 years as a Navy SEAL. Kristen Beck has written a book about her experiences.

Kristin Beck, formerly Chris, penned her story of going from an elite Navy SEAL to a woman in the book "Warrior Princess."

Yet another Navy SEAL has written a book. This one didn’t kill bin Laden.

The Atlantic Wire (“The Latest Navy SEAL Book Could Impact the Military’s Transgender Rules“):

In every Navy SEAL is a memoir, it seems lately. Retired SEAL Kristin Beck’s new memoir,published on Tuesday and titled Warrior Princess, is a bit different, though. In it, Beck describes how, over the course of her 20 year military career, including thirteen deployments over the globe, she slowly became more and more aware that was she meant to live life as a woman — a vexing and often tormenting realization for a long-time member of an elite all-male unit that went on to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. Beck, who identified as a man (and went by the name Chris) while in the Navy, explains that she decided to undergo hormonal therapy some time after retiring in early 2011, and eventually came out to colleagues by posting a picture of herself dressed as a woman on LinkedIn earlier this year

Beck’s former comrades have been amazingly supportive.

Soon, the responses from SEALs stationed all around the world suddenly started pouring in: “Brother, I am with you … being a SEAL is hard, this looks harder. Peace” * “I can’t say I understand the decision but I respect the courage. Peace and happiness be upon you…Jim” * ” … I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that Kris has all the support and respect from me that Chris had … and quite possibly more. While I’m definitely surprised, I’m also in amazement at the strength you possess and the courage necessary to combat the strangers and ‘friends’ that I’m guessing have reared their ugly heads prior to and since your announcement. …”

Thirteen deployments, seven to combat zones, and a Purple Heart have earned Beck a permanent membership in a warrior brotherhood. Her story would likely have had a quite different reception, though, even a decade ago.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Andre Kenji says:

    Transgender people usually seeks careers that are closely identified with one gender. So, instances of people in the military seeking sex change are pretty common. Some years ago, the British Press pointed out to a paratrooper that changed her gender:

  2. Andre Kenji says:

    There was also this KCT police officer:

    The most generally accepted estimate is that one in 12,000 persons in the United States is transgender, he says. Based on that ratio, there should be only 50 transgender officers. Instead, there are more, he said.

    Many males who transition to females are drawn to law enforcement because “they attempt to hide their feelings … by seeking a hyper-masculine occupation,” he said.

    Conversely, females who transition to males are drawn because the profession allows them to more openly express male traits, he said.

    The phenomenon spawned an international support group six years ago called Transgender Community of Police and Sheriffs, or TCOPS. The group has 110 core members and has contacts with more than 600, most in the United States.