National Purple Heart Day profile: Kristin Beck

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Purple Heart Day: Meet Transgender Former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck

As the nation celebrates military heroes on National Purple Heart Day, AOL takes a look at some of the most compelling, heart-wrenching and heartwarming stories behind those who have earned the prestigious award.

For two decades, Chris Beck was a senior chief with SEAL Team Six -- the elite team who took out Osama bin Laden.

Today, after coming out as a trans woman in 2013, she goes by the name Kristin.

She is the first openly transgender former U.S. Navy SEAL, as well as the recipient of a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. She is now running for Congress.

Before she revealed her true identity, her life was a lie, she said.

"No one ever met the real me. No one knew anything," she told CNN.

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Purple Heart Recipient: Kristin Beck
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National Purple Heart Day profile: Kristin Beck
In this May 12, 2014, photo, Kristin Beck, left, a former United States Navy SEAL, enters an elevator with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell inside the Washington Monument in Washington, after a ceremony to celebrate its re-opening. Beck, a transgender former Navy SEAL, is planning a primary challenge to Maryland's longest-serving U.S. representative, Democrat Steny Hoyer. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Kristin Beck, "the first openly transgender former Navy Seal" speaks about pre-and post-Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and experiences, the current status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military at the the Library of Congress June 2, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Kristin Beck, "the first openly transgender former Navy Seal"and transgender former Army Spc. Joanna Eyles speak about pre-and post-Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal and experiences, the current status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the U.S. military at the the Library of Congress June 2, 2014 in Washington, DC.
In this May 12, 2014, photo, Kristin Beck, left, a former United States Navy SEAL, talks with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell inside the Washington Monument in Washington, after a ceremony to celebrate its re-opening. Beck, a transgender former Navy SEAL, is planning a primary challenge to Maryland's longest-serving U.S. representative, Democrat Steny Hoyer. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Transgender former US Navy Seal Senior Chief Kristin Beck speaks during a conference entitled 'Perspectives on Transgender Military Service from Around the Globe' organized by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Palm Center in Washington on October 20, 2014. Transgender military personnel from 18 countries who allow them to serve openly, gathered to talk about their experiences and discuss whether the US military could join them. It is estimated that more than 15, 000 transgender personnel currently serve in the US military, but policy requires their separation if they are discovered, according to the ACLU. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Kristin Beck has been "Barbie" and "Conan [the Barbarian]." Now she's running for Congress: https://t.co/h9ARCvfxI9 http://t.co/MbBdLk42aN
U.S. military may lift transgender ban http://t.co/rr8vLPgH70 #hlonare http://t.co/pnWoEzYyPV
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In 2013, she published a book, Warrior Princess, in which she talked about growing up and wishing she could live as a girl. But her dad was a man's man and expected her to serve in the military so she chose the toughest branch of all: the Navy SEALs.

"If I could be at that top level, maybe this would go away. Maybe I could cure myself," said Kristin.

She got married and divorced twice and had two sons. In between foreign deployments she made covert missions of her own - to Victoria's Secret to buy lacy lingerie.

Dr. Anne Speckhard, the co-author of Warrior Princess, told INSIDE EDITION: "Late at night [Kristin] would put on female clothes and sit and watch TV."

It horrified her wife, who said: "Please don't ever do this in front of our kids."

At work, Kristin kept quiet about her real identity.

"If Kris had come out as transgender during her time in the SEALS, she would have been put out of the military," said Speckhard.

When Kristin finally came out as transgender, her Navy SEAL friends had mixed reactions.

Stuart Smith, a former Navy SEAL, told INSIDE EDITION: "I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I just don't understand the whole process of it.

"At the same time, he has a 20-year SEAL career and I have to support him for that."

Kristin says she decided to go public to encourage others to be who they are. She retired from the SEALs in 2011 with a Purple Heart and a Medal of Valor.

She is now mounting a Democratic primary challenge for a congressional seat in Maryland.

Kristin said: "I fought for 20 years I fought for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I want some happiness."

Read more awe-inspiring stories about heroes who have earned a Purple Heart award:


Meet Annie Fox: The first woman to ever be awarded a Purple Heart




Charles Elder was shocked to receive the honor 65 years after he served in the Korean war




Henry Johnson​ was a fiercely brave member of the famed WWII Harlem Hellfighters




Calvin Winright's family had no idea he died a war hero -- until one woman found his award




Chris Melendez joined the military after the 9/11 attacks and now he's making history



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