Christopher Beck is a former Navy SEAL who, in the summer of 2013, came out as Kristin Beck — a transgender woman. Beck’s story garnered wide attention through an Anderson Cooper special and a book chronicling her journey, Warrior Princess.
This past fall CNN premiered a documentary about her life, Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story, which was recently released on DVD.
Lady Valor presents an honest, humorous and heartbreaking account of Kristin’s struggles. Kristin is someone who doesn’t have it all figured out, but is nevertheless negotiating life as best she can and is finding hope along the way. Addressing questions about her new identity she says:
It’s hard to explain. People ask me about that, they say “I don’t really understand transgender, and you know, can you explain it to me?” And the only thing I can tell them is I don’t really know what transgender is either. I don’t know — I mean, I know what it is, it’s this — but I don’t know where it comes from or why. It’s not an environmental thing that was pushed on me or some food I ate and suddenly I broke out with “transgender.”
I’m not a gay man. I’m not a drag queen. I am not maybe total dude and not total feminine, I’m not totally female. I’m not really — I think I’m living more in that gray world, and I’m still trying to figure it out, and maybe that’s what everybody else is trying to do too — they’re trying to figure me out. They’re like “I don’t know what that is,” which is kind of derogatory, but people are trying to figure it out.
It took me a long time to get to this point where I’m comfortable living in my own skin and I’m very comfortable living the way I’m living right now because it’s natural to me now. And I’ve never had that.
Kristin is a hero, not for her battlefield achievements and rows of medals, but for her tenacious struggle to be true to herself. She is a person not defined by her military service or her choice of clothing, but by her vulnerable humanity. It is precisely that humanity that presents so many challenges, challenges that she must often face alone. Talking about first venturing out in public with her new identity, Kristin says:
I was so ill-prepared, and all alone, by myself, I had no backup. There’s no Predator flying over, there’s no helicopters, there’s no rescue team, there was nobody to help me. So I was one hundred percent all alone and totally unprepared.
Lady Valor is a story about one person’s extraordinary journey from the pinnacle of military special operations to a groundbreaking public disclosure about her true self. But it’s also a story applicable to everyone: about how every person is more than simply the events in their life, more than their gender and attractions, more than their friends and family, more than their achievements and failures. Regardless of any of those details, each and every person is deserving of love and respect.
After reading through some of the hate mail she’s continually barraged with, Kristin says:
There needs to be a change, a fundamental change in compassion in our country. I’ve seen so much of this pain and so much of this bullying and it’s not right. I’m a human being. I deserve dignity and respect. I hope that maybe we can start learning to love each other and have more compassion and understanding for the diversity of human beings. It would be a really sucky world if we were all the same. I’m glad I’m different.
I’m glad Kirstin’s different too, and I’m glad she’s allowing her story to advance the cause of compassion and love.
The trailer for Lady Valor:
Dan is the Executive Editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians blog. He is a writer, graphic designer and IT specialist. He lives in Montana, is married and has two cats.