Thursday, September 04, 2014

"Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story", about a Navy Seal who retires as transgender, airs on CNN

Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story,”  directed by Mark Herzog and Sandrine Orabona, is a documentary from CNN Films giving the biography of a former Navy Seal who found she was transgender and embarked on life as a woman after retirement.   The film is based on her book “Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy Seal’s Journey to Coming Out Transgender”, co-written with Anne Speckhard.  She was born with the name Christopher T. Beck. 
Beck, born 1966, would now be 48.  Beck served as a member of the United States Special Warfare Development Group, and was part of Seal Team 6.

The film starts with an introduction by Anderson Cooper, before Beck begins to describe early life in the Navy, where the first priority is living in a very small volume of space and keeping everything clean.  Soon the film shifts to her learning to use firearms, in a way that the NRA would like.  Much of the course of the film is simply her talking to the camera.  

There have been many other persons who decided they were transgender while in the military.  In 1993, on a radio show, and early during the debate on Bill Clinton’s desire to lift the ban on gays in the military, Scott Peck (the Marine Corps general’s son, not the psychologist) interviewed a woman who had made the transition (from male) after serving in Naval intelligence for 15 years in enlisted ranks.  She was able to do the same work as a civilian.  However, in general, intelligence services didn’t fully accept LGBT people even in civilian capacities until Clinton’s XO in 1995; the CIA and other agencies now regularly have booths at gay pride in Washington DC. The US military still bans transgendered individuals (with medical discharges), even though, with Congress, the US repealed “don’t ask don’t tell” for openly gay personnel who still identify with their original biological gender (non-trans). 

Kristin says that most Seals develop visible physical scars, but hers were much less severe than usual. 

Beck married twice before her transition, and has two sons of which she is the father.  There is a sequence in the film where she deals with putting her kids “first”. 

Kristin’s mother and two of her sisters declined to be in the film.

CNN’s main link for the film is here.  

The film could be compared to "G.I. Jane" (1997).

The film aired on CNN Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 9 PM EDT, but AC360’s interview with her, scheduled for 8 PM, was postponed because of the death of Joan Rivers.  

(Note: spelling of first name is "Kristin", not "Kristen". Review fixed Nov. 23. 2014 in heading.) 

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