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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired September 4, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the first things we usually do is go around the room and introduce ourselves to each other and it can be something as simple as your name and your branch of service, what you currently do now if you choose to share, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
KIMMY MARTIN (ph): I'm Kimmy Martin. I'm a retired U.S. Army, 23 years, three combat tours and just before I retired I was a master and instructor for UAVs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went in to the military 1957 and stayed for 40 years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an army veteran of 20 years. I was a military musician. I lost my job six weeks after I told my department Chair that I was going to transition.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I joined Navy in 95. I was a machinist maintain nuclear operator. So I operated in nuclear power plans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was station in Fort Benning, spend some time in Germany and I want to Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was a captain commander of Vietnam in 1969-70.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a great duty support for Cape Canaveral, they turned a boy into man. You see how that are worked out.
SENIOR CHIEF KRISTIN BECK, UNITED STATES NAVY SEAL: Hi, I'm Kristin Beck. It's about it.
I'm Kristin Beck. I was in Navy SEAL for 20 years. During that service I was the SEAL the entire time. I did 13 deployments. There are quite a few in combat, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, few the spots around the world.
I have a bronze star with V for valor and a purple heart. Now, I'm opening a new chapter of my life trying to be a real person that I was -- knew I was, how I was wished I could be. So now I'm finally doing it.
COOPER: A former U.S. Navy SEAL, part of an elite secret team with a secret herself.
BECK: To my SEAL team brothers, they said it's a whole different type of courage. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was a member of a special counterterrorism unit called SEAL Team Six.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She set a reaction to publicly telling her story has been about 50-50.
Some former SEAL fully supporting her but she also says, she heard a lot of bigotry and hatred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone who wants to change their gender if he doesn't see him fit in at all with that life style.
BECK: I fought for 20 years for life liberty in the pursue of happens. And I want some happiness. This is my life.
COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. In the hour ahead you're going to meet somebody who's demonstrate it bravery time and time again as a U.S. Navy SEAL.
BECK: No one ever meet the real me. No one knew anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Beck details his transformation to become Kristin Beck.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He became an Elite Navy SEAL and all of the time carrying a burden that finally led to make a drastic decision.
BECK: When I first come out, it was like the perfect storm. It's how a couple of people described it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have quite an amazing story.
BECK: I didn't know its going to be that. I just wanted to tell some of my story and maybe you said an example for some of the younger generations to saying that I'm still a human being and I deserve at your respect.
We're Americans and we are proud of our country. It's another mission because there's a lot of freedom I'm defending by doing this and in some ways this is way more mentally and physically rigorous than many things I've done in my past. It's been a struggle.
Every things is so hot right now. It's OK Bo, we got it. Come shift. You do the shifting for me. You got to keep it in drive Bo. I had good career after I retired, I was working at the top levels. I was briefing at Pentagon and my civilian level was equivalent of a one star admiral but I make some people uncomfortable because of all these.
I knew it. I would rather start all over again from scratch just to have my own life and live away I thought it was best. And now I'm starting over.
They say, in our country there are many people go by their daily lives and then never meet someone who is gay or lesbian and they really never meet everybody who is transgender. I'll talk to people, just hanging out to be a better person. They start doing their prejudice for that bigotry or whatever. I just tried to be friendly and I say, hi, how are you doing (inaudible). Because I a Navy SEAL, you know, I'm transgender, you might see me on TV and they go, "Wow." And then they realize that maybe they try to get in a fight with me wouldn't be a good idea maybe they should be nice.
I wanted to stop and look at (inaudible) view.
Come here Bo. Come on.
Bo, he's a rescued dog, it's like a year and a half. He's kind of grown up with me. But he doesn't know any difference between jeans and a dress, so it's kind of cool.
I retired 2011, then I've been on the road quit a bit, giving speeches and go in a conferences, so because I bought a real small RV. I guess I don't really have a real true place I could say as my home. So I've been living on the RV. A new belt. So I put this (inaudible) up here so this is based in my whole cloths closet. I built a book shelve back there, so back in the corners and (inaudible) bookshelf and then all the shoes go inside of here. It's now -- instead of having the shoes outside, now I have access to my shoes.
These are kind of comfortable, believe it or not. This is my underwear drawer, my underwear box. Here is like a lot of the meds that I take, a lot.
Most of them are like pain information, there's a couple there for blood pressure and then some other stuff for my stomach because my internals were all messed up. I think its there -- given so much for the shots and things. So all right, I don't sleep so I have to do that.
It's a very small space. It's time bigger than then living on the ship though. You adjust your bed and you can lift your bed up and you have area about this deep, where you put all your stuff in. And that was -- somehow you get a little locker. But I was only on a ship for about three or four months and I hope I never, never have to do that again.
OK Bo, Bo, you're ready? We are back on the road.
I want to see the big ball of twine. But you're not a cat, so you don't appreciate that kind of stuff.
BECK: My families turn Wellsville, New York. My father was born here, so I guess this is kind of like a hometown.
We moved here when I was a kid. I graduated from high school here in Wellsville, real small town. I think a total of like 6,000 people in the whole town. So small town America.
LIZ BECK, SISTER: What?
BECK: Can you bring the (inaudible) over, I know you go that real quick with you.
L. BECK: Yes.
BECK: For the next couple of weeks.
L. BECK: (inaudible) you put this on -- just copy and paste into the generic folder?
BECK: Good boy. I'm going to hire Bo as another assistant. He's doing really good.
TORD BECK, BECK'S FATHER: The dog is better treatment than some of the kids.
BECK: Lizy, my younger sister, she's real, you know, go get her, a real hard worker. So I give her a job to help me with some of these.
I have about 800 e-mails that are unanswered. Let's just make sure there's not anybody in stress or trouble out of that 800. That's what I'm really worried about.
L. BECK: OK. I knew that she was really trying to help people but after helping her work and reading some e-mails I know so much more now.
T. BECK: He is switching out to a lot of different people and they have no role model and he is becoming that role model but I feel sometimes he is going 90 miles an hour and he's got to trying to back off and prioritize some of the things that he is doing to do a better job.
BECK: So, on Friday the 4th I'm taking off and I'll be in the RV, going toward D.C. then I take off the night of the 6th or early the 7th towards Tampa, Florida.
On October 12th I have to see Tampa Chamber of Commerce. I need to make sure I'll find all those e-mails in the 12th and then we'll figure out with other folks I'm work with, when we leave to California.
L. BECK: OK.
T. BECK: Kris is moving so fast, he's going to bang into himself. Kristin will have to -- I mean have an appointment to sit down and see what's going on. Maybe he can make time for me.
We use to say he was like a ferret. He moves so quickly. He was totally animated and when he slept he slept hard, it was like he expended all his energy and then he just kind of went out.
He was an outgoing person, rode horses, he go up hunting. Part of our life we lived on that farm and he was all into it, he was all boy.
BECK: Dad, I now load it and ready to go.
My dad, he was a football coach and pretty hard-core when I was a kid. He was strict, strict and fair. But now I think he's battling with age.
He scared me
And where all there's -- it's hard for me to (inaudible) anymore.
T. BECK: He was tough. I was tough and I apologized one thing to him that I didn't know any other way to bring you up but at times hard knows you.
You were a middle child and you always testing.
GARDNER BECK, BECK'S BROTHER: I was right next to him for every whooping because we're (inaudible) in clothes.
You know, (inaudible). We had a lot of fun.
L. BECK: I like your outfit. I think I'm underdressed.
BECK: I think I got this outfit from you. I guess (inaudible).
G. BECK: All right, are we good.
L. BECK: Ready.
BECK: Gardner, don't I stop moving out, well...
L. BECK: Ready, pull. OK, I throw like a girl
BECK: I got two. Gardner. He's a year and a half older. We moved a lot when we're growing up and during one of the moves, he got held back one year, so he was a year older in the same grade. So we had our little rivalries and I think we've made off quite a bit.
I'm going forward because otherwise you're blocking me. So follow my lead.
G. BECK: OK, OK, OK, OK, OK.
BECK: And everything is for a reason aren't they?
G. BECK: OK. I'm not saying -- I'm not saying (inaudible).
BECK: That's why did is right there.
G. BECK: We got a little room there.
T. BECK: Hey no swearing. G. BECK: (inaudible) shoot. I mean, he wasn't a good athlete, I was. It was easy for me but he had to work at it. And he would work at it. He had worked at it and he begun to break log, just throwing it, just go on, just go on, you know, and he had the drive and he had the smarts. He was always straight A. He was always bam, bam, bam.
L. BECK: Nice. I have seen these two together like this. One time.
G. BECK: Ready.
BECK: Yeah, go.
L. BECK: The most fun I've had in years. Having everybody together, it's so emotional. But I cry.
BECK: We go on dad, he is the boss.
T. BECK: Ready. Go.
L. BECK: Kristin and I -- I don't think we got along so well because I was a baby of the family so there was a whole lot of, you know, Liz gets everything, you know, Liz is a brat.
By the way, I was the one that made that milk jug go way back there.
BECK: So Lizy, she's probably 10 or 12 years younger than I am. So I was in high school and get readily leave for college. She was just a youngster that's why I never really had a relationship with her at that time.
L. BECK: Look at those boots, I like those boots.
BECK: When I was at college and I went in military and I've have been pretty much gone for almost all of her life.
L. BECK: It's great now. Kristin and I get along, great, you know, where I am I feel like she's my rock, I'm her rock right now especially lately since she's been here visiting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your dad used to shop in here...
BECK: Yeah, I know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... all the time.
BECK: I'm so jealous because all the time he was coming here and buy like five or six things for all the girls in the family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For the girls, yeah.
BECK: And then he gives me a fishing reel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our tie, your tie.
BECK: Cute necktie. L. BECK: If I grow up with Kristin as a girl I think we would have been best friends. I really do. It's just interesting, the sweeter side of Chris is out which would be Kristin and it's awesome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you look good.
L. BECK: When Chris was going into the military, I remember going on a motorcycle ride and really spending some quality time with his little or her little sister.
That meant a lot to me. I was beyond proud, for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skies over Baghdad has been illuminated. We're seeing bright flashes going off all over the sky.
BECK: Desert Shield and Desert Storm happen and I went in the Navy. When the SEAL team recruiter came around the boot camp, I raised my hand. It was about 200,000 people, about two of us made it. Then I was off to SEAL training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Each year, 600 to 800 young men attempt the Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training or BUD/S but only one-third complete the rigorous 25 week transition from sailor to SEAL.
BECK: They're not teaching you anything at SEAL team basic training. That is all just a selection. They are going mentally, physically, emotionally abuse you right up to the point of failure.
I didn't see if you could come back from that point. If you doubt then you just wash away.
I always talk about the psych factor. I was (inaudible) all over and the psych we're bad and (inaudible), "why am I doing this?" And then just take that one more step, he said, "OK, we'll make it one more mile. Thousands of people try to do it but only few make it. Then you go to more courses.
You learn how to do stuff. Because you learn how to really use explosives, you learn how to do the shooting (inaudible).
And after that time, that four year, then you finally become a SEAL and we were -- you're a Budweiser. The SEAL team trident, which is this little thing right here, SEAL team trident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just work hard and became an outstanding SEAL.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the hero for 20 years to this town...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey.
BECK: What's going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and I see so many of his friends here in Wellsville rallied him. JUDITH CORNELUIS, BECK'S FRIEND: We have pretty much a signed shrine to Kristin in our shop with -- every time she came home, got her wall assign and it's pretty fun.
BECK: Written little notes on the walls.
BECK: Whenever I got back from the war (inaudible) jagermeister was tradition, so we could get it back (inaudible) and finish it between like a two or three or four of us.
CORNELIUS: We got more than four people too.
BECK: Yeah. Sometimes we got five, sometimes.
CORNELIUS: Oh gosh, whoever showed up. Well we're pretty much family.
BECK: Yeah, (inaudible). There was a lot of (inaudible), so I came back a lot.
CORNELIUS: We're just glad you came back, right?
G. BECK: I heard story about him. This is going through caves and the Navy SEALS were scared and all she want to do is she want to die. He didn't care. He didn't like who he was. So he did run right through there, lock and loaded and just go, just run straight. I don't understand why he's still alive. I mean the shit he has been through, unbelievable.
CORNELIUS: Always falls to the wall we might say. Always really pushing it to the extreme, everything and we're very proud.
T. BECK: It's hard to take things from your own kid, their word, but when you see it in print, it's very different, you know, and then your eyes will open, you say, "Wow, he did that?" He's got all kinds of commendations. It was outstanding. Some of the things that he's done and accomplished and nobody can take that away from him. That's his -- maybe not only legacy that he'll leave behind. Where he's going now, I don't know. Only time will tell how that will be judge in another 20 years.
CORNELIUS: (inaudible) war anymore but this is a little scarier. You go on a webpage and read some of the things that people write on there and it's just another war to fight, really.
BECK: I get a lot of this e-mail and I get a lot of people posting very direct over things and it goes way beyond, hey, sometimes there are death threats. Well, this man needs some mental help, he has brought shame and dishonor to a proud organization. The only thing more sickening than this is the morally bankrupt and useful idiots showing his person was accolades. OK. So it came out. Now, go back in. You're ugly. Good job from writing, they're brain washing of our nation. Now, more and more kids will grow up confused, ensure your stay in hell.
In some ways, this is worst than what I did on a physical battlefield. This is like (inaudible) up in your face and sometimes it's from friends. It's like you do that entire career. It didn't mean anything. You know, it's tough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are learning more tonight about the murderer of a transgender woman in Oakland over the weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sasha was set on fire on Monday. The 18 year old victim was wearing a skirt at the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gutierrez ID's herself is transgender and claims this fight was her taking a stand against bullies.
BECK: There needs to be a change, a fundamental change and passion in our country.
I've seen so much of this pain and so much of the bullying. It's not right. I'm a human being. I deserve taking their respect. I hope that maybe we just start learning to love each other and have more compassion and understand if the diversity of human beings have been a really sucking world if we're all the same. I'm glad I'm different.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how you doing?
BECK: Pretty good. It's been a little busy. I was been -- just trying to live life, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) of helping her out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I'm trying, a lot of organization and (inaudible) e-mails.
BECK: I have thousands of thousand of e-mails. There are so many people in the world that never find it in themselves to do what they wanted to do. When they saw the Anderson Cooper special and they're like you had the courage, you did this and you did that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BECK: And so people just saw that and now they're sending me e-mails. I just -- I can't keep up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're using you as their (inaudible). I just warn you against that, you know, you got to -- what was your plan objective, take care if you or others, you know.
BECK: Me, I guess.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't tell you to get on a level of playing field and your strength is build up. And this causing you about putting too much time into that... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: True.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... because your weak and may need someone that's strong.
BECK: My dad gave me some similar advice, but he's of kind of -- he has a lot of problems within everything I've done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well naturally. I mean any parent would.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
BECK: I have two boys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?
BECK: It is. My heart is struggle right now. That's what I could do with my kids or about my kids.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Well you're still their parent.
BECK: I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. So...
BECK: That's the hardest part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were in a lot of (inaudible).
BECK: I'm on a (inaudible). It sucks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Usually it's our own choice that keeps us from coming home and visiting anything like that. There's a cost for that. And would respect to your children. Will you arrive for them too, you know, which is hard because they may not even want to talk to you or maybe they do, well I don't the situation.
BECK: Yes, we don't really talk too much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. You go a lot of a lot of emotions that's why I said be careful.
BECK: It was always like the American dream to have, you know, the wife and a 2.3 kids and a (inaudible) and it was just something that they grew up with.
I was just trying to fit into the stereotype of American dream, exactly with my parents and everyone expected of me. And I met someone who is awesome, you know, we got along good and we were hiking, biking and, you know, doing all kinds of cool stuff, you know.
And so we end up, you know, together. And then we had kids. She knew about this like way after we are married. You know, you bring it out too slowly and then see what the accept (inaudible) and she wasn't totally digging out, so she had no idea what she was getting into, definitely wasn't the top on her list of things that she wanted.
So (inaudible) and she was like good and I never saw her. It sucks. I wish I could have known lot a better.
BECK: I want my hair to be as long as yours. (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just have grow it out.
BECK: I'm trying. It takes a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is the house Kris grew up. Most of it, you know, he's (inaudible) years, high school I believe and then I married his youngest sister and then we bought the house from Kris' parents. Do you want to see her room?
BECK: Yeah. You want to show it me? You said you put all the staffed animals out of your dad's room finally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have one daughter, Ella (ph). She actually likes this version of him, a little bit better because he can relate to her better. That's what she's told me. She relates to him better.
BECK: Look how awesome this room is and you use this closet now. You had a professional painter in here or you did this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professional painter.
BECK: This are like really nice lines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. She loves it.
BECK: This little tiny closet right here, there's a really small little mini closet, that's where my sister use to stash like a lot of the old clothes and the stuff that they would never wear. So I would stash my clothes in there of my girl cloths where I can sneak around. So we have girl closet stash into the other room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BECK: So is my hiding place like I wear my sister's cloths or.
For the first time I felt this feeling that I can remember was somewhere like it was third or fourth grade or something in grade school. I had a hiding place and I had like a couple of my sister's things, like a skirt or something. I remember purposely staying home, sick, a fake sick and fever and stomach ache and all that. My mom will go to work and my dad was gone and all other kids were in school. I had the whole house myself. And I like put nail polish on. I get to have, you know, wear my sister shoes on.
It was like a reset. It was like a vacation for me. So I had my vacation away from (inaudible). I was like slave from everybody. You know, my parents, right? Brother and my sisters and nobody really knew me. I just kind of always closed up. All of these trapped and closed all this up, just kind of made me close everything else out.
The first ones to know on my family about any of this were my sisters. That was a little bit process, you know, I was check and filling it out and then they came to kind of figured out, understand it and accept it, I never told my mom or my dad or my brother.
G. BECK: I have no call. I don't know if it happened in the service he says, I don't know. From what I hear, you know, it started out early. I never saw it.
We use to have fun. We use to fight and I blacken his eye. You know what I mean, we were brothers but I never saw a girl in him. You know what I'm saying, a dress. I don't know.
T. BECK: For 40 years, I know my son is a male. I mean I see -- I never saw this coming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL baptized in Northern Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But now he has publicly come out as a woman.
G. BECK: When he went viral, I mean, kind of shocks you, but we kind of knew a little bit but we didn't want to talk about it, you know, especially me and my dad, you know, about the girls, I mean, women, your guys are cool or whatever, you know, especially you know, some women thing he is hot.
T.BECK: Everybody wanted to keep it from it. They thought I'll go (inaudible) when this whole thing broken and I had a hard time because he was pushing so hard at it.
BECK: You spread the word, we're here (inaudible).
He was upset, he didn't understand it. It's all new. And so my father has been working on this now and in his own mind for eight months and he's coming around pretty far.
T. BECK: What's going to happen for dinner, I'm not a cook?
BECK: I'm going to do -- I'm going to cook my special spaghetti.
T. BECK: Right.
BECK: Is that OK?
T. BECK: Yeah, that's cool, very cool.
BECK: Do me a favor. Pull my boot off. You pulled my whole foot. Thanks dad. I can do everything now.
T. BECK: I know in the beginning to gain acceptance of this is very hard. And -- but its happening. This is not something that's going to go away. It's becoming vital part of his life.
BECK: Me and my dad playing golf. The only second time I've ever played the game.
T. BECK: He's doing amazingly well.
G. BECK: (inaudible), this grass is different.
There, that's (inaudible) you son of a bitch. It's on the green.
G. BECK: I still call him Kris, short for Kristin, you know. I love him. He's cool.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
BECK: My mother's reaction, "my gosh." Well it's just a phase, you're going to be over it and maybe it's a reaction to the war and all your things that you gone through and this is just the way you're coping with it. It's going to be a phase. You're going to be over it. That's pretty much where she's (inaudible) it and that the only comment she says was, "Christopher, I just don't understand this."
Why couldn't you be normal and just be gay. And I was like, "Mom, who said that?"
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a strong man in the house to open up this thing.
BECK: I got it.
T. BECK: Are you going to wait for your brother or not?
BECK: No because he might be like another hour.
T. BECK: It is a big thing to be accepted and I can understand that. Even though you might have 1,000 people rallied around you that look up to you and feed on what you're doing, a lot of times it comes back to family, is my family going to accept me or reject me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to our lord and you guide this, what we're about to receive my bounty for Christ our lord amen. Amen.
T. BECK: Is that butter? Do you have (inaudible)?
L BECK: I'm trying to.
BECK: You know you're mom's nickname was (inaudible) when she was growing up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that. I don't know why.
T. BECK: (inaudible) you all have nicknames. Kris hated when I call him Ms. Kris or Krissy, Kissy.
L. BECK: No Kiss.
T. BECK: He still doesn't want to. She, excuse me.
BECK: That might be the first time you ever said she. How come that's the first time you ever did that? Because it's kind of nice, thanks dad.
T. BECK: You're welcome.
L. BECK: I going to cry. You know I'd love to see Kristin so happy right now. I love it. What a huge load to take off, I mean, I feel so sad that she had to have that growing up, that pain, so just happy now that she can be happy.
So nice to see you really happy. I think it's...
BECK: That's kind of nice for me.
L. BECK: ... family and just nicely and quite. It's good. I like it.
BECK: I wish mom was here.
BECK: I see, ouch. It seems like it helps. It might be more psychological than it is, ouch, physical just totally went out. I've gotten a not of injuries, you know, in 20 years in the SEAL Teams.
I've hurt this elbow and I've hurt my back and this shoulder and that knee and that ankle and both my wrist and I almost all my fingers, ribs and -- I mean I have stuff all over that I've definitely messed up but I'm still very lucky. Those other guys comeback and they are missing arms and legs and just really messed up.
There are young kids coming back, they were teenagers when they went overseas to the war and they're coming back with some scars that you don't see on the surface. I have pretty minor injuries compared to all of those guys.
L. BECK: You need any help?
BECK: Not really unless you want to carry me downstairs. You don't want to carry me down stairs.
L. BECK: No but I can get you cane.
L. BECK: Or I could slide you in a pillow case.
BECK: No. I actually feel a lot better. It feels better already.
L. BECK: OK.
BECK: I think I'm healing up.
L. BECK: All right.
BECK: At least my back hasn't gone out.
T. BECK: You don't become a Navy SEAL and then just drop out and become a normal life. It does scar you in certain ways, it has to. If you are at any kind of a thinking rational empathetic human being, it's going to leave scars.
BECK: So I'm getting ready to drive out of here. So I got Bo and I was walking around in my dad's house cleaning up all this stuff that I have, I don't few things stashed here. And I'm looking at the chair I'm looking at the TV, I'm looking at the books and just looking all the stuff just to have normal life.
Little town, little house, all this stuff that I don't have or I probably never would have. So I'm back on the road.
T. BECK: No matter what happens from now on with Ms. Kristin, I told him your blood are my blood. Black, blue brown I don't care what you are. You know, you're my kid and now you have -- I would never turn my back on. But I would like to see him settle down and maybe find a good companion he hasn't at this time and enable to settle with anyone.
And I think we all need someone, you know, that you can share that, you know, share the journey.
BECK: I think they see me looking and they see the inner turmoil and they tell me to take care of myself. I'm going to take their advice, I'm going to start trying to look out for myself a little bit more for a day but I'll go back to my old ways, feed myself off
So I'm at VMI, Virginia Military Institute, it was class of 88 so we had our 25th reunion. I'm joining football game, the game I was going to win. It was the first time I've been back here to this school at least 15 years, you know, since the war started in September 11, 2001, I've been kind of busy.
I bought this special just for this event. You got to stand up for the American flag. So a Navy girl, I was a Navy boy and I'm now I'm a Navy girl retired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well nice to meet you.
BECK: Awesome. I'm back here now as Kristin so it's -- a lot of people for a first time are kind of seeing me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, how are you?
BECK: It's been long. Good to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.
BECK: How's it going?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing?
BECK: Pretty good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good, good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're down in Florida?
BECK: I'm in Florida right now but I'm kind of traveling around the country going up within East coast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) me on the (inaudible).
BECK: Yeah? I'd meet a lot of my old friends, they're still here. And most of them said if this is what you have to do that makes you happy then I support you. Many have said they don't understand it but I don't understand it but I support you. I think it's a great way to go.
It's not full support but it's not punch in the face. They all understand that some of us need to have a little different journey, that's what we defend. That's what this all young men right here to defend. If you're in a football game people that are here for the first year they're called rats.
The entire game makes, you have to stand the whole time. Every time me and my school has a touchdown, they run down into the end zone and they did a push ups in the end zone, so it's traditions. It's a good stuff.
Hi. Just checking in to see how you guys are doing? How are the kids doing? I had two boys and they were born just before 9/11, you know, right at that time period. I was deployed a lot. I was constantly gone. I mean I had one year I was gone, 340 days or something. At that time of my life, the only time I was happy, was when I was overseas.
I wanted to be gone. It was easier for me because I'm not going to just leave that one thing, I could leave the SEAL. So none of this was even a thought because you're living so hard-core that nothing else rally mattered or cramped up including family.
What's that? There it goes. You got LEGO dinosaurs.
I was looking at like the life insurance for my boys and I just figured that maybe that was the best thing I could give them and the kids wanted it, you know? Everyday I just wanted me to be there and I was never really there.
So I can be like come up and visit some day. I don't know. Never easy (inaudible). Even when I was there I wasn't really there. I was the angry bearded Viking, you know, punching walls and doing it till I could sleep, (inaudible) I'd have to, you know, drink a bottle of booze and knock myself out.
All the time I was even there, they were walking on eggshells. They're always worried about everything they said, everything they did because I was so wound up, I was so tight. And I look back in that and go man, yeah, I was down. And I was such an asshole.
It's very difficult for everyone in the military to just jump from a routine overseas. Your friends are dying around you and you're -- suddenly the next day you're on an airplane and you're back home. It's just hard to (inaudible).
And told them I said hi. Yeah. Yeah, I heard you, you asked if they you wanted to talk to. Just say hey to the kids. Tell them I love them. Yeah. Thanks. All right. They're so mad at me and I think I did it to them. I don't know if I did it to them or not but I'm feeling I did. I hope I didn't.
It's not like the movies. It's not always happy ending.
BECK: I couldn't sleep last night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
BECK: I just can't sleep sometimes. I just lay awake and just -- I don't know. I have bad dreams too. So it doesn't help.
I don't sleep. Some nights, I won't sleep for like three or four days. I just lay around, just lay awake and think of stuff. I think it's probably pretty common for all the guys that go overseas. And you just -- you think about a lot of stuff.
I moved out of this really nice house. So if you see the interview with Anderson Cooper, it's a really nice fireplace and a house and with perfect wood floors. And I couldn't have a house and this.
So I moved out. Everything was packed up and just stuck in here. I jumped in the R.V. and took off. Needed to get the electricity hooked up and then my water turned on.
It feels like I'm camping every day. In the service, we're constantly going from place to place. And you're always living out of bags. It's so aggravating. It kind of brings me back to some of those times, so a little bit of sacrifice for me, and hopefully I can have something nice one of these days.
I have a few friends that came back from the war, they're in wheelchairs. That's what I wanted to do was, I wanted to have a landscaping business that could help these guys out, so we would have lawn mowers and plant some degrees and beautify their yard a little bit, so that when they're having coffee in the morning, they're not looking at the desert or they're not looking at a battleground.
They should be looking at a healing ground. I found a piece of property in Florida that was 5,000 feet of greenhouse, but it was foreclosed, and it's been vacant. So it was all overgrown. It was like a jungle.
We have property.
For anyone that runs a nonprofit or like really gets it going, more power to you. That's -- it's hard. It really takes a lot out of you.
This helmet is an Iraqi soldier's helmet. So, I think it looks nice with flowers in it. Here, let me pull the truck out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to just pull straight it out and then I will back right in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you can move right up to it?
This is a lot of work. If you do concrete, you're going to like this. This is going to be the new koi pond. And this area will be where all the plants and all the other stuff are. This is going to be like a deep, really clean water in this. And this is going to be a disappearing edge flown up that way, and then in here, and the co-op greenhouse on that side.
This will be a sitting area right here for the restaurant. Right now, I got like junkyard guys that are using that piece of property. And then the thrift store is being run by another lady. And then all this will be the regular greenhouse. And then all these bases right here, see these little cubicles? They're like garage spaces. All these things will be for the artists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you doing a coffee shop or...
What I want to try to do is have some veterans down here working and then growing these plants for the public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If things get too big, they get away from you.
BECK: This is too big.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You will get it down to a science.
BECK: I hope so. This is huge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BECK: So it will be another wall right here. I was going to start forming that in today maybe. All through high school, I worked for a construction company.
And I have always been kind of handy building stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad is an architect.
BECK: That's awesome. So you learned some good skills then?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I don't really speak to him much. He is gay.
BECK: Oh, really?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't speak to him.
BECK: That's a bummer. I don't really speak to my kids a whole lot anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got kids?
BECK: Yes, two boys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you married?
BECK: Yes, for nine years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They know about -- are you gay? Or are you like a woman?
BECK: I'm transgender.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does that mean? Do you like women?
BECK: I like people. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, are you more attracted to women or men?
BECK: I'm attracted to a person who fulfills me, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do your kids get that?
BECK: I'm not really worried about their organs on the outside. I care more about the people. I haven't really...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys don't have a relationship or...
BECK: No. I haven't really talked to them about that much in depth. It's hard to explain.
People ask me about that. They say, I don't really understand transgender. Can you explain it to me?
And the only thing I can tell them is, I don't -- 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 like where it comes from or why. It's not an environmental thing that was pushed on me or some food I ate that suddenly I broke out with transgender.
It doesn't -- I'm not a gay man. I'm not a drag queen. I am not maybe total dude, and I'm 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, because 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. But I'm very comfortable living the way I'm living right now, because it's natural to me now. And I have never had that.
So, in 2010, I was going out to the bars. I was getting dressed up. I, like, went out and I bought a wig, and it was like this $25, $30 wig. It looked like a scarecrow. It was not nice. And then the makeup, didn't really know how to do the makeup.
And so I jump in my car and I drive down to the bar, and the only bar I can go to that I would be safe enough at was a gay bar right down here in St. Pete.
You know, a couple of people were just like -- they were somewhat friendly, and just some of them were just looking and going, OK, wow. That makeup really needs some help. And so it was more like, wow, they got style, just not very nice.
And it was like, I didn't know. I don't know how to put makeup on. I didn't grow up that way. I didn't have my mom or my sisters. I didn't grow up with it when I was a teenager. I was terrible at makeup. And I knew it.
And so going from the house and being so ill-prepared, and so like -- and all alone by myself, I had no backup. So there's no Predator flying over, there's no helicopters, there is no rescue team. There was nobody to help me. So I was 100 percent all alone and totally unprepared. That's why it was worse than going in on like a mission in combat, because I had nothing.
I was hanging totally out by myself. And the rest of the LGB community just does not understand that, because they can just put on whatever outfit they wear every day. And I get made fun of even amongst our own community. You look silly. Why would a guy wear a dress?
That's why it's harder than some of the missions I went on. It really was.
BECK: Let me stack these over here, so they're out of the way.
Yes, all this stuff is obviously junk. Junk. There is another mouse right behind you. There he is. Hey, buddy. Hey. Are you scared of mice?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, not really.
BECK: Yes, you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just try to leave them alone.
BECK: Wait, you were in the Marine Corps. You're not supposed to be scared of anything. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On paper.
BECK: On paper?
BECK: Keys, keys, keys, keys. Come on, keys. Where are the keys? I don't know where my fricking keys are. Can't even move that truck.
And I have checked in the truck. I looked in every fricking thing that it could have been. So now I have to start looking in the not- obvious places.
So here is a bunch of my flags. I would write on them the base I was at. So, this was at Forward Operating Base Chapman, Afghanistan. That's when I got blown up, got hit by some shrapnel in 2008, Purple Heart that day. I got a birthday present from the Taliban. It was kind of a messed-up birthday, I guess. Still ready to rock and roll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Draw your pistol. Take a shot. Nobody will ever yell at you for being tactical.
BECK: That was my first lieutenant here. This is -- '91-'92 was my first years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, sweet.
BECK: The SEAL team I'm on was predominantly working in the Far East, Australia, and a few other places, Indonesia, Malaysia, Serbia, Thailand.
It's a different team specializing in locations, but they're all pretty much equal as far as capabilities. I was doing some groundbreaking stuff with the UAVs, make them fly longer and doing different missions with them and different tactics and developing things.
This is me in Iraq with a golden A.K. at Uday Hussein's palace. This is where those huge swords are that you always see with the big parade field with all the troops marching through.
Here I am on top of Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad. This is what they call the Green Zone now. But, when we were there, it wasn't green. It was pretty red.
Saddam's throne. I couldn't believe the amount of excess. So, that's why I sat on Saddam's throne.
This is Afghanistan. I started doing source operations. And I was working with the locals. And I met a lot of the old mujahideen commanders. This is me just dressed in a uniform that I wear all the time. Here on the ground is a little tiny green guy. My youngest son made him for me, so I would carry him on all my missions.
I used to make a lot of pottery. So, that's one of my pots.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's that thing you got it wrapped up?
BECK: Oh, that was some guy's scarf that he didn't need anymore.
Looking for these damn keys for a fricking hour, man. It was a fricking stupid bag, pushed into the back. Couldn't even see them. Man. Found the keys.
When I first started going out in public, I would only go out at night. I never spoke about my profession. I was always fearful of running into a workmate or somebody. And so I went to very obscure places.
DALE NICHOLS, OWNER, FLAMINGO SPORTS BAR: Got the bar August of '69. That's when Kerouac was coming in here. We didn't know he was a real famous writer at the time. He just said, when I'm not partying or drinking, I try to write once in a while. So...
BECK: When I first walked in here, I thought I was going to get beat up. I had pretty much the whole bar staring at me. They were just looking and they were like, what the -- and the owner of the bar, Dale, came over and started talking to me.
NICHOLS: When she first came in here, she was on the TV show I had caught a glimpse of. And my friend Boone, he had watched the whole show. He recognized her.
BOONE, FRIEND: I saw her on the TV on CNN. And then she pop in here. See? That's who you are, that Christina, no, Kristin. Used to be Christopher, right, now Kristin. And you have been a good friend.
BECK: Once a month, all the Air American, the guys that flew in Vietnam.
BOONE: Every Wednesday of the month.
BECK: Every Wednesday.
BOONE: They're over there meeting.
BECK: And they meet at his restaurant, reminisce about the old days.
When I have friends like this, it's very strange, though. Then after they find out what I'm up to, and they find out that, hey, I'm just a regular human being, maybe, the next time they see somebody that's a little different, they're going to give them a chance.
There's lot of people here at the bar now who are way more open-minded than they were ever before because they gave me a chance.
NICHOLS: She is a free spirit. She is doing what she wants to do, served her country, and she's a true American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw you over here a while ago.
BECK: Yes. Yes. How you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I checked with him and I said, what's the deal with this? And he's like whatever.
So, he says, go introduce yourself to him.
It's obviously a little awkward for me, but a little awkward for you as well, I'm sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you're use to it by this point?
BECK: I'm used to it. I know a lot of other people are trying to figure it out, but...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of SEAL team guys that I'm friends with, they were saying, hey, man, if this is a joke, it's a really bad joke. It's not very cool. And I said, no, it's not a joke. This is me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope everything is working out for you, man.
BECK: It is. I mean, it is tough. But what are we supposed to do? Just live in hiding and be afraid?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice shoes, by the way.
One of the coolest things, one of the real old-timers from my old team said, I have known Chris for 20 years, and that sister is my brother. So, once a SEAL, always a SEAL.
BECK: After all that training, you run into a lot of the same breed. The stereotypes sometimes work.
TRAVIS LIVELY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Hey, you ready, princess? Holy -- all right. Let's go. My name is Travis Lively. Spent 10 years in the Navy, most of that as a Navy SEAL here on the West Coast, at the same time that Chris was stationed on the West Coast.
This range in particular, out here, we have 270-degree field of fire. So we're going to be able to shoot in three directions. It's fantastic.
I ended up giving Kristin a call and I was like, here is the deal. This whole thing that you're doing, I get it. And I'm cool with it, you know? Like, I want you to be happy. I'm here for any team guy or team girl.
BECK: We're doing a little shooting out on the range with some buddies. I'm not doing like a lot of shooting myself. Most of the time, I'm doing training. I'm just showing other people how to shoot or fine-tuning skills for some police officers or SWAT teams, things like that. Hold it kind of low, controlled right here, you know, almost like the
retention, weapon retention. And just go in there and start blasting.
A real gunfight when you're out there, really trying to do something, and this is SWAT, police. When I'm working work with any of these guys that are doing that, I'm working with them, trying to get very kind of accurate in the beginning, but real fast.
T. LIVELY: Yes.
BECK: Trying to get real fast and get on there with something. If I hit them in the foot, it's a good shot.
So the thing is, both eyes open and you're pulling your pistol out. And immediately after I'm out of the holster, I want to be on. Even when I'm right here, I'm hitting a target. I'm hitting, hitting, hitting, hitting. Now I'm starting to get real accurate. Now I might be -- now I'm getting tighter on it. But I have already got hit the guy three times from here. I have already hit him three or four times on the way up right there.
So that's all it's about. First two shots, hit something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BECK: A foot shot is a good shot.
PAUL BISHOP, FRIEND: I have known about this site for about three years. We have been friends for 16 years, give or take.
BECK: Front side, front side, front side, pull it. Bam. Got it? See?
BISHOP: She asked me if she could basically confess something, I don't know, for lack of a better term. And he excused himself, and back 10 minutes later, Kristin walked out the door. And I was like oh, cool. Great costume or whatever.
And she proceeded to explain to me that that's what she felt she was. It was a shock.
BECK: Booze. Let's go.
BISHOP: Chris Beck, awesome to party with, total life of the party. We partied down in Tampa. We partied in San Diego. Put alcohol in him, he was good to go. But when he was sober, yes, he was a pain in the ass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this mean look. Holy Toledo.
BISHOP: He did a lot of things that were on the verge of suicidal, you know, trying to hide under this mask of bravado, putting himself in harm's way, going on voluntary deployments consistently. You only had to go so many times, but he did, what, 14, something like that? That, to me, is almost suicidal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tower guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're getting filmed while you're relaxing.
BISHOP: You could tell there was something, an extra weight on this individual. There was an extra variable there that they were wrestling with the whole time. But I get it now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BISHOP: And I will say that Kristin Beck is still a pain in the ass, but definitely much easier to deal with, because I think Kris is more comfortable with herself than she was as himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go, go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got it now. I got it now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming your way, coming your way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down there. Get it, go, go, go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming that way. Out, out, out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cease fire.
BISHOP: The person I see today is a happy person, especially in this element. Kristin showing her capabilities and what she did in the past and that she can still do it, even in those silly shoes.
BECK: Because of how I'm starting to treat myself and I'm starting to like myself, maybe it relieved a little bit of the anger that I had.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going hot.
BECK: And it's hard to be like a tough guy when you have a skirt on and high heels.
So it kind of helps a little bit, the outside changes. I see myself as a better person because I like myself better. I try to treat myself better. And I want to treat everybody better.
Whenever anyone asks me where I'm from or where my hometown is, I tell them San Diego. I was here for 12 years in the Navy, SEAL Team 1 for most of it. And it seems like, where I live right now, I have people that I know and I have acquaintances, but I don't have, like, friends like this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So getting back on the gun today and running
around was a blast.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like riding a bike. It was almost like being back in a platoon.
BECK: One more day like that, I think I could almost be back to where I was used to...
BISHOP: Next time, do it with automatic weapons.
JYL LIVELY, WIFE OF TRAVIS: We just wanted to welcome Kristin back to San Diego. And the kids just love her. So I wanted to have her be able to see the kids again and stuff like that and just hang out and give her a little downtime.
T. LIVELY: I have spoken to Kristin about reconnecting with her kids.
What happened in that relationship which -- what has caused all the separation, I don't think it has anything to do with high heels, lipstick and makeup. I don't think it has anything to do with those things. I think it happened long before.
Jyl and I have been married almost 11 years. I have been gone for a little more than half of that. Even now, I do a lot of international travel. And I will be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. And the kids notice even when you're gone even for a couple of weeks.
BECK: You going to share or what?
T. LIVELY: Hey, you done whining? Are you done whining?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
T. LIVELY: Well, go take him back. Go take him back. Go.
BECK: All these pillows and everything you see is mine.
J. LIVELY: Stop whining.
T. LIVELY: Hey, do you want to go to your room?
J. LIVELY: She has two kids, and I want to say they're 11 and 12, or 12 and 13 now, you know, which is a really tough age too.
She has talked to me about it before. I think she kind of regrets that she didn't spend the time with them that she could have when they were younger. And I think she feels that door is closed.
She has expressed that she loves being around my kids, but, sometimes, it really makes her sad too.
BECK: Look what you're doing. You're so funny. What are we going to look at?
I always felt kind of like a visitor in places like this. I do need to try to have a home. And I'm looking at it, and I feel like I'm missing a lot out of life because I've been so loose or so unattached.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I firmly believe that you have to do yourself before you can do for others. But at this stage of our lives, we're supposed to have all that figured out. It's time for us to provide for our children. I understand these are extraordinary circumstances. So as far as I'm concerned, I'm giving her a pass for about a year to sort your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out. And then you have no excuse but to go turn back to those kids.
BECK: You get so wrapped up in your own life. How do you start over? How do you -- how do you hit that reset button? I'm glad that my two boys are alive. So I mean, at least I did that right. They're here. They're pretty awesome kids.
BECK: OK. So here it is. These guys are doing 15 to 20 minutes each swim. So this is times that. So that's like an hour in the water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
We're going to have zero way to do this close circuit without them being SEALs. So I'm going to be hiring SEALs to do it.
I joined the Navy in 1994, went to SEAL training and spent my whole career at SEAL Team 1. And that's where I met Kris for the first time. And we've been friends and associates in a business relationship recently ever since.
You know how to measure to the inside of the deal here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You're going to measure that in exactly 8 inches.
BECK: Eight inches is this big?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I tell my wife is 8 inches.
BECK: So I'm still working as a contractor. I'm building some different things for the Department of Defense. I invent stuff and think of stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: International man of -- woman of mystery.
BECK: Yes, international woman of mystery.
I'm working on a little project. It should be pretty neat. It's an underwater project that I can't really talk too much about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This thing may be just an absolutely pile of control surface. So when we do that testing, we'll just hook it up.
BECK: All the way through my entire military career, I was kind of on the edge of technology. I invented a couple of things within the Department of Defense. I was very involved in it.
So 15, 20 foot there. And I think you can do that with that one yellow line.
BRANDON WEBB: OK, cool.
BECK: That's easy. It's all testing stuff. So we can self test and try it in the water.
WEBB: That sounds good.
During his last couple tours, Kris did do a tour, what people know as SEAL Team 6, what we call DEV group, or development group, and then went on to the United States Special Operations command in their research and development department. Really, it's supposed to identify emerging technologies that can be leveraged by the guys on the battlefield. And so it's a really critical role that he played. I mean, it's a pretty amazing career by anyone's measurement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to find an awful lot of secrecy in anybody who takes their job real seriously. And probably no more so than the SEALs. And so individual attention is rarely awesome. I know a lot of friends in my community don't want to be publicly supportive of Kris, because it's bad for business.
WEBB: But you're always going to get a few people that have their views. And most of them, they won't express them, because they're too afraid to come out. They'll talk big on a social media forum. But to actually come on camera and express their views, I think speaks volumes for the character.
But, you know, my only critical question to Kristin was why would you want to create such a big deal about this in the media?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, what I really want is Kris to be happy. And I'm not positive that a documentary, magazine covers, or anything else is necessarily the path to that.
Guys like Kris, girls like Kris, have taken the flag and have decided to start publicizing it, doing their part towards making it a better place. So you're still fighting in that case. Because this would be a very easy thing to just do and not publicize. Taking the harder path for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you what some team guys have said to me. Like, "I would love to talk to Kristin Beck," but the problem is if they support you, then they're going to face wrath from half the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they're pissed about -- not the fact that you're transgender, but they're pissed about the fact that it all unfolded.
And the other part is, if they don't agree with it, for whatever their reasons are, OK -- and that's their choice, and that's what we fought to defend. But if they don't agree with it, then they're going to come across as...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bigots and anti- -- you know, homophobes. From their perspective, there's no win in this situation.
BECK: The whole public thing, and even doing stuff that I'm doing right now, is that there needs to be a little bit of a public face to some of the things that we're going through as a nation. And if it has to be myself doing it, it's speaking from my experiences and my upbringing. Then I think it should be.
WEBB: The thing is once you make that decision to cross that line and into the media.
WEBB: All of the sudden everybody is watching you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They feel that you kind of did them a disservice in the sense that -- and they don't know what the right answer is either, but there was no heads up. That's the way the guys look at it. You're retired now, but guess what? You're always going to be a team guy.
BECK: I was at a breaking point. And I was at that -- I was at that point where I was like, you know what?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like let's rip the Band-Aid off.
BECK: Yes. It was worse than a Band-Aid. The doors came off the closet so fast that I was just like OK and I just kind of went with it. I didn't have a -- at that point, I had no choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, you're going to be -- you're now in a situation where you're loved or hated but never ignored.
BECK: Coming out and showing the world who I am, nobody can understand what was going through my head or going through my life. I'd say that there was a better way to do it. I kind of hit a wall; I hit a breaking point. I hit a spot in my life where I was no longer in the military. I was retired.
I was still having that gnawing feeling like I am not doing what I need to do. And I was like you know what? Enough is enough. I'm done. And I put on a dress and went to my work at the Pentagon. It was tough. It was tough on me. I think it was tougher on a lot of
my friends and a lot of my coworkers, because they didn't know what to expect. And that was a mistake. I should have -- I don't know how else I could have done it easier. I don't know how I could have done it different.
I don't do anything halfway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is with pleasure and honor to introduce to you the real Kristin Beck.
BECK: When I came out, I started getting phone calls from a lot of other organizations that they wanted me to come speak. So I do motivational speeches. And I do the anti-bullying thing, and working a little bit with a Human Rights Campaign, and trying to work on people so that they understand a little bit more.
One of my goals is to speak with people and tell them some of my story. But even more than me speaking with you, speak to each other. Seek each other out, help each other.
I want to try to set a good example for a younger generation and just say that being transgender is not bad. It's a facet of human life. And maybe I can give some people some hope that they didn't have before.
This is my new armor. Because of what I'm trying to represent. What I'm trying to represent is, you know, women being proud and beautiful and powerful and not to be taken lightly. So I am the underdog now. So if I can put my armor on and portray myself as a woman with great dignity and great respect, and this armor protects me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you decide to become a woman?
BECK: Now, it's not really my decision. It's like asking someone why did they decide to have blue eyes. What I did decide was to start living what I felt was more inside. We are all born very different. But as human beings, we are all equal. I mean, it's a birthright to have freedom and equality. My birthright is to live a wonderful and happy life. And that's all I was really asking for. And that's what I still strive for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the San Diego LGBT community center.
BECK: I was introduced into the LGBT Veterans Wall of Honor with a number of other people who have been defending, you know, this country and the LGBT community.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an honor, and thank you all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, a great honor to present this award to Kristin Beck, United States Navy. She uses her personal narrative to influence policy changes. She advocates to legislators, and she pushes that they would allow people to serve open as transgender in the United States military.
BECK: I'm humbled and honored. I look behind at this wall and see some of my fellow veterans that have been inducted. I'm honored for that. It really touches me greatly.
And just like everyone keeps -- we keep talking about over and over again, there's so much further to go. We're going to get there. Please go out and tell positive stories. That's what's going to do it. We're going win people over one at a time.
So I'm going to read this thing I wrote back in 2008. It's called "Everyone Prays."
"I hear the helicopter's rotors beating air. I smell the burning diesel fuel all around. The green glow of night vision goggles and 18 guys sitting around me. The place we are going is enemy held. Don't know if we're all coming home. The back ramp of the helicopter lowers down, ready to dump its cargo. My head is bowed, and I'm saying my prayer, the same prayer I say every night before we go out death's door: 'God, guide me, be with me, make me brave in the face of my enemy, bless my guys all around me. Bring us home. If I don't make it, take care of them. Take care of my two sons. Give them the peace I never had.'
"The helicopter banks hard, flares (ph) to a stop in midair. We run out in the desert night. The skies light up from tracer fire and explosives. Just another mission."
Yes, ma'am, thank you. Good to be here. How are you doing? Good to see you. How is it going?
COL. STUART BORNHOFT: The transgender community right now is not recognized under the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." They would be medically discharged. And that's a crying shame for them, for military, and for taxpayers at large.
You can't hire a sergeant off the street. That experience is irreplaceable. And I'm really proud to be able to hear your story.
BECK: Thank you.
BORNHOFT: My husband wants to get a picture of us together.
BECK: Yes, definitely.
BORNHOFT: What we value in the military is someone who is dedicated to the mission and mission accomplishment. And I've heard Kristin Beck speak about the fact that this is another mission. And to see the talent that is needed for that and to see it wasted because we can't adjust our own cultural thinking is a waste. And we as taxpayers lose that investment that we've put into that individual, who would be willing to serve if they didn't have the prejudices that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" brought.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he wasn't such a great person, it would have been a lot harder for me to accept, to be honest with you. It's unique for me. It opened my eyes because Kris was such a good friend and a good person to me. Kristin is also. Because it's -- that same person is still there.
BECK: I think that there is a continuum. There is a -- the gray area between genders is so much more vast than we could ever imagine. And I think that's because, when you look at the deep down inside, we are all the same.
I'm tired of traveling. Maybe that would be part of my new life, part of starting over, that I could actually have a house somewhere and have some friends. So I think it would be nice to settle down a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Merry Christmas, Dad. I love you.
BECK: I had a lot of Christmases overseas. This year was especially hard. I tried to talk to the kids to say merry Christmas. And the boys didn't want to talk to me on the phone.
So I spoke to my ex-wife for a little while, and my Christmas was right here. My boys from six years ago.
Do I want my boys to see this? Do I want my children to understand what my life is? Yes. I wish I could speak to them in person about half this stuff, and I don't know what to say.
You know, the only thing I can say right now is sorry, and I would like to have a chance with them to share some of their life if they would let me.
Here it is. I'm starting to feel more empathy, more close to the emotional side of life that I never totally had before.
This was the whole beach we used to do all the Marine Corps landing practices. Semper fi.
Deep in my soul I can still say that this is the right path for me, because there's still something in there that says I need to experience this. And so that's why it's so hard to explain and so difficult to put into words. It's like someone who has never had sight in their entire life trying to explain the sunset. I don't think we can. But this is still a beautiful journey. And there's a great future ahead of me.
GRAPHIC: It is estimated that nearly thirteen percent of the general population has served in the U.S. military. It is nearly double that percentage in the transgender community.
Kristin's children say they support her transition, but still need time to reconcile other issues from the past.
Kristin put Healing Grounds on the market in January 2014. She continues to advocate for civil rights around the country. BECK: My coming out right now as a female and telling the truth about my life, it's not really telling the truth. So that's sometimes misconstrued. I'm not finally coming out and telling the truth of my life. This has always been my life. What I was is a Navy SEAL. That was always my life. That's my life, that's true.
I was always that kid on a bicycle being a little reckless. I was that boy. And I was also that boy that sometimes snuck off and put on a skirt and kind of -- all of that was true.
I've done a lot of things in my life. I feel like I've lived maybe four or five different lives. But those are all me. I don't regret it. It's still my life.