Congressman Hastings made the following statement in honor of Ms. Kristin Beck on October 11, 2013:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in recognition of Ms. Kristin Beck, a decorated veteran of the United States armed forces and a transgender woman. Kristin served twenty years in the NAVY Seals. Her career included 13 deployments, including seven to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, she works with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to help in their transition back to civilian lives, and as a military contractor in Florida. She is a source of inspiration for all who support LGBT equality - a war hero who went from fighting terrorists overseas to fighting for our veterans at home, all the while combating stereotypes and knocking down gender barriers.

Kristin served in the U.S. Navy for twenty years before retiring in 2011 and coming out as openly transgender. While on activate duty in the Middle East, she was known to her teammates as Chris Beck. She served as a member of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, a unit specializing in Counter Terrorism, and also with SEAL Team Six. Rising to the rank of Senior Chief, she received multiple commendations, including the Bronze Star, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, and the Purple Heart. 

Upon retiring, Kristin came out as transgender. She turned her experiences into a source of inspiration for millions of Americans and dedicated herself to being a force for healing for returning veterans. She founded Healing Grounds, a non-profit organization that provides specialized training in landscaping and gardening, as well as plants and trees to help veterans start a garden or fishpond in their own backyards. Kristin describes her own landscaped backyard as a place of solace, where she no longer feels “anger, resentment or depression,” just peace. She hopes Healing Grounds will allow many other veterans to build their own places of tranquility in their backyards.

Kristin has proven herself to be a courageous fighter both on and off the battlefield as she helps lead the march towards equal respect and protection under the law for the LGBT community.  This year, she published her memoires in a book titled “Warrior Princess,” detailing her experiences as a transgendered man in the military. Kristin’s story reminds us that there is still work to be done to expand rights in the LGBT community. Though “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed, the ban on transgender people in the military is still in effect. 

I commend Kristin for her outstanding bravery and commendable service to our nation.  Kristin broke many boundaries during her distinguished career, and with her example, we can continue breaking boundaries as a nation, creating a more inclusive and tolerant society for all who call America home.

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