A Transgender Breakthrough

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Anderson gets an exclusive interview with Kristin Beck, who used to be Navy Seal Chris Beck (with a big gnarly beard). Money quote:

Though her identity was hidden, the rest of what Beck offered was true. “I gave true brotherhood. I did my best, 150% all the time, and I gave strength and honor and my full brotherhood to every military person I ever worked with.”

Never under-estimate the power of the US military to foment social change. They shifted American culture when they integrated in 1948; they have done more to debunk the notion of female weakness or subjugation than any other comparable institution; they proved that gay people are and always have been among this country’s patriots and war heroes; now we learn that a member of the Navy Seals has become truly herself.

More to the point, she’s engaged with fellow veterans in the staggeringly tough job of living in America after living and dying in Iraq. Here’s her webpage, called Healing Grounds. Money quote:

The purpose of the “Healing Grounds” is to have a specialized “community service” focused nursery and gardens for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. This will be a place to receive landscaping information and training as well as plants, trees and simple kits to start a garden or fishpond in the veterans’ own backyard. We will also offer to ship items and install as necessary in their houses. Depending on need and funding available there will be many free installations for the veteran who qualifies. Too many of my comrades are returning from the battle grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan and do not find peace and worse are committing suicide.

See the zen garden above. Once a service-member, always a service-member. Many just don’t know anything else but serving and saving their comrades.

We have yet to grapple culturally with transgender equality in any sufficient way. But here we have a genuine war hero who needed to become a physical woman to match who she felt she was inside. That matters, even as I mourn the beard. From the Special Forces blog – which uses a priceless illustration:

This just in, and yes it’s true. I first met Chris when she was at SEAL Team One. 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. I do know that Chris went on to serve out a full retirement, and finished his twenty years of service as an E-8 at US SOCOM, and a tour of the recently scandal-clad ST-6.

At its core, the gay rights movement is not about enabling people to be gay; it’s about helping more people to be themselves, without persecution or ostracism. And that’s why transgender issues also are at the heart of this movement – and of broader civil rights. What we need is more familiarity, more courage, more discussion. Thanks, Kristin, for advancing that by putting yourself out there. It isn’t easy. But it’s the only way we will shift the world.