Monthly Archives: September 2014
Why Kristin Beck is so Important to the Transgender Community
On September 4, CNN aired a program called “Lady Valor” which highlighted the transition of former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, to Kristin Beck, and the transgender world will never be the same again. Here’s why. One of the many stigmas attached to male to female transgendered people in the United States has been the perception that only “sissy boys” would want to dress as, or physically become women. Lady Valor will destroy this perception, as absolutely no one can question the heroic bona fides or “manliness” of Chris Beck. If a highly decorated Navy SEAL can realize that his biological gender doesn’t match his mental gender; then who can question the fact that some people are simply born transgender? Who can say that that being transgender belies some horrible deficiency or flaw of character? How will the “manliness” of someone speaking out against Kristin Beck measure up to what she actually did in thirteen combat deployments in which she was wounded multiple times? This stigma of being a wimp or “girly” (in its most pejorative term) has contributed to many male to female transgendered people remaining buried in the shadows. As a societal comment, the stigma against men adopting female attire and mannerisms is a condemnation of how society views women in general: male behavior is laudable, female behavior is not, male behavior is strong, female behavior is “weak.” Historically, women have had the luxury of adopting male attire and mannerisms for decades and this was seen as becoming assertive and achieving liberation. What article of male clothing have women not adopted? Women business executives receive respect, male stay-at-home dads are sources for derision at the local soccer field. It will be very hard for many people to wrap their world-view around the fact that such a “macho” man would want to wear a dress and paint her nails, and be called Kristin, yet this is the conundrum that people will be forced to consider. Well then, he must be gay right? This is the second fall back perception about male to female transgender people. Wrong again. Chris Beck was married with kids and Kristin Beck is currently dating a woman. As any transgender person would tell you; who you want to sleep “with” is sexual preference. Who you want to go to sleep “as” is gender identity. The two are mutually exclusive occurrences. Chris Beck coming out as Kristin Beck will enable many closeted transgender people to emerge from the closet with a degree of respect. There are many other misconceptions to combat, but at least the “sissy stigma” has been dealt a serious blow. Chris Beck sacrificed for his country on the battlefield; Kristin Beck is now leading the vanguard for transgender rights and sacrificing in the arena of public opinion. For as much courage as it took to operate under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq, it takes a different yet possibly stronger courage to defy stereotype and be the person you were meant to be. It was certainly a “ballsy” move. The stereotypes of the strong male and weak female ingrained in our society, and our very lexicon will be hard to overcome, but Kristin Beck has virtually and metaphorically arrived via a Blackhawk helicopter in a hot landing zone and something tells me that there will be a lot of transgendered people coming off the helicopter after her.