First Transgender Navy SEAL Comes Out

By Brian Jones

A retired Navy SEAL is poised to blow the doors off the military's policy on transgender people.
Kristin Beck was a member of the most elite special operations unit in the world -- SEAL Team 6. She deployed 13 times. She earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. She served in the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.

Shortly before the bin Laden raid, in early 2011, she retired as a senior chief petty officer after serving 20 years.Her name was Chris Beck back then (as pictured above). In a memoir that promises to change the way we think about transgender people and their service in the military, Beck, who is active on Twitter, writes about how she came to the realization that she was meant to live life as a woman.

Transgender people identify with a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth. Beck was born a man, but identifies as a woman. Shortly after retiring, Beck came out to friends and colleagues. She writes about the deeply personal experience, and a lifetime of service to her country. (Below is a picture of Kristen Beck now.)

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Brandon Webb of SOFREP, a prominent blog covering the special operations community, knew about Beck, but says that he had his own reasons for not writing a story.

"I first met Chris when she was at SEAL Team One," Webb writes. "While Chris was always a little different I had no idea what was lying under the surface, as I'm sure a lot of people will have the same experience."

Though the Department of Defense lifted the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform in 2011, transgender men and women still are banned from signing up to serve.

More:For Gay Americans, Lower Wages And Less Job Security, Studies Find

The revelation that a transgender woman not only completed a full career in the military, but did so as a member of an elite combat unit, casts a serious shadow of doubt on that policy.

The National Center for Transgender Equality writes "Not only is this unjust to individual transgender people who wish to serve their country through military service, it weakens our national defense by barring qualified people from duty."

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