(Extensions of Remarks - October 11, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1495]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. ALCEE L. HASTINGS

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 11, 2013

  Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Ms. 
Kristin Beck, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL who not only spent 20 years 
fighting for her country in uniform, but is now leading the charge for 
equal rights for transgender Americans. During the course of her 
distinguished military career, Kristin was known as Chris Beck, and 
served through 13 deployments in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, 
including seven combat deployments, before retiring and coming out as 
the first openly transgender Navy SEAL. From fighting terrorists 
overseas to knocking down gender barriers at home, she is a true 
patriot and source of inspiration.
  At the age of five, the young Chris Beck knew that he was different, 
being drawn to his sisters' feminine clothes and toys. The son of 
socially conservative, dogmatically religious farmers, however, he was 
sent to a Christian school operated by televangelist Jerry Falwell and 
pushed into traditional masculine roles, such as playing football and 
riding motorcycles. Fifteen years later, Chris found his calling with 
the SEALs, the Navy's elite special operations force. He proved himself 
to be a courageous and much respected hero, while developing the deep 
bonds of brotherhood with his fellow SEALs. In between missions, 
though, when Chris had a little time to himself, he could not help but 
dress in women's clothes. Over the next two decades, he went on to 
serve on a tour with the counter-terrorism unit known as SEAL Team Six, 
famous for its harrowing missions and rescues, and earned the Bronze 
Star with ``V,'' the Purple Heart, and other numerous honors.
  In 2011, Chris retired from the military and embraced his true 
feminine identity as Kristin Beck. She started undergoing hormone 
therapy and physically transforming herself into a woman. With this 
metamorphosis came the decision to officially come out to the world. It 
began with replacing her LinkedIn profile picture with one of her 
dressed as a woman, and changing her name from ``Chris Beck'' to 
``Kristin Beck.'' On February 9, 2013, Kristin officially came out to 
the military in a press release, in which she stated that she 
``respectfully remained silent regarding her gender identity'' during 
the era of ``Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' and deeply desired to be 
``afforded the freedom to live in a manner consistent with her life-
long gender awareness as a female.''
  With the pain of shrapnel, broken bones, and post-traumatic stress 
disorder (PTSD) as reminders of a life of extraordinary military 
service, Kristin agreed to participate in a study of ``resilience'' by 
Dr. Anne Speckhard, a Washington-area psychologist and adjunct 
professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. An expert in the 
psychology of terrorism, Dr. Speckhard wanted to study how service 
members draw upon coping mechanisms to integrate the stresses and 
exhilarations of combat with their workday lives back home. What she 
found was the disjointed story of a woman coming into her own following 
a lifetime of military service and societal pressures. After more than 
100 hours of interviews that often resembled psychotherapy, Kristin and 
Dr. Speckhard co-authored the book Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's 
Journey to Coming Out Transgender.
  Kristin has embarked upon perhaps the greatest mission of her life: 
self-actualization. Since her return to civilian life, she has worked 
tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues affecting both the 
transgender community and veterans. Kristin works closely with Healing 
Grounds, the non-profit organization she founded to support returning 
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Healing Grounds lends therapeutic help 
to them by providing specialized training in landscaping and gardening 
to build a place of tranquility in their own backyards. In addition, 
she has two teenage boys from a previous marriage, and works as a 
Pentagon consultant.
  Mr. Speaker, I commend Kristin Beck for her outstanding bravery and 
service to our nation. All her life, she has selflessly put duty and 
country ahead of her own needs. Kristin's story reminds us of the many 
daily struggles faced by transgender Americans and veterans alike, 
including the continued discrimination faced by transgender service 
members who must hide their identities in order to serve in the 
military. As she continues working to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual, 
and transgender (LGBT) equality and address the needs of veterans, I 
remain an ally in Congress and wish her the very best in her new life's