Before the first few weeks of 2013 as Christopher Beck, the following words were used to describe him: Navy SEAL on their elite SEAL Team Six, combat wounded veteran, a Pentagon consultant, dad.
Then and now, as Kristin Beck, here are more words that people use to define her: politician, national speaker for human rights, LGBTQ advocate and transgender role model.
She announced to the world in early 2013, after she retired from the SEAL team, that “since grade school or before like [around] age 2,” she has identified as female. “This is my self identity. It’s more than expression. It’s the true essence of who I am.
“If people want to define it as a gender, then they can define it as a gender,” she said. “But, I think that’s belittling. When we stick labels on someone like that because of something we can’t understand, we are belittling the greater things that somebody could be because we can’t do the language.”
After walking into the Pentagon wearing a dress, she chose to embrace all these labels used to identify her: “Why not?!” she said in an exclusive interview with the Gabber on June 24.
“It’s a big deal. It’s like who else is going to be able to join all these weird groups? It’s an alternate universe that I’m able to jump across all these different labels. I identify with all these groups of people. I can talk to everybody and see everybody and try to get all of you connected together,” said Beck.
Yet, she makes it clear that she doesn’t like being limited by such words.
“Labels. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get rid of all labels? I can get rid of the labels of religion – my family being Baptists, and the color of my skin and race and sexuality and gender and education. I had to hide until eventually I started to express myself a little bit more.
“If you meet me and talk to me and look into my eyes, that’s going to be where we can connect on a deeper level. Down to that ball of energy that’s inside. That’s what I care about.”
Beck was in St. Petersburg on June 23 and 24 to speak about human rights, sponsored by the Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay. She presented a 2014 CNN documentary film about her transition entitled “Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story” on Friday evening at the freeFall Theater, then answered questions during an art reception at the Veteran’s Art Center Tampa Bay, 6798 Crosswinds Drive N., suite B106, on Saturday.
“A lot of people don’t know what quiet contemplation is,” she said. “How many times have you ever sat just by yourself with no entertainment? Put your cell phone down? And really sit and do it for six or eight hours with just nature and the universe to surround you? And, you really go deep into yourself. Look at yourself and analyze your life and see where you are at? Look into a mirror for an hour.
“When you have that kind of connection with yourself, you’re going to see past all the clay covering, the dirt” that makes up the body. “We’re sentient beings. There’s something in each one of us that is a little spark.”
Native Americans call it a vision quest, said Beck. People have been going off by themselves for 10,000 years to try to find themselves alone in the woods. “I mean, Walden Pond – going out there and just sitting and looking at yourself. Really digging in deep. We don’t do that anymore because we’re too wrapped up in consumerism.”
After doing public speaking, talking to the press and to people who want to get to know her, where does she see herself in five years?
“I’m a monk on my own with a piece of property with a pond and a tree – a little bit like Walden Pond. I’m not going to worry about any of this. I’m going to have a shaved head, and I’ll have on a robe and none of this matters anymore. So, I don’t have to dress up in these clothes with a little polish or whatever.
“The most important thing to me in my life, is compassion. If we can have ultimate, infinite compassion for each other, there’d be peace. Imagine that world. That’s the ultimate mission. If just a little bit can drip off, we can bring some of these groups together and people will start being cool without the consumerism and all these labels.”