June 7, 2013 at 9:21 AM ET
For 20 years, Christopher Beck lived the secretive, intense life of a Navy SEAL on the same Team 6 that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound just months after his retirement.
But Beck had a secret of his own during those years he fought dangerous battles that ultimately earned him a Purple Heart and Bronze Star: a desire to live as a woman.
Now living as Kristen, Beck said few people during those years knew about her struggle with sexual identity.
“No one ever met the real me,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Beck wrote about her internal struggles and her transformation to becoming a woman in the newly-released memoir, “Warrior Princess.”
In the book, the twice-married parent of two describes growing up wishing she could swap places with her sister.
"'Please God let me change bodies with Hanna. Please let me wake up in her body!” she writes.
As an adult, Beck said she went to Victoria’s Secret to purchase items that she later had to hide or throw away.
“I’d go buy a couple things and then bring it home and wear it," she said. "Then you have to purge because you can’t have anything lying around or even close.”
Beck joined the military hoping to suppress her confusion and even make it disappear.
“If I could be at that top level it would, maybe it would go away, maybe I could cure myself,” she said of her rationale.
As part of her transformation, Beck has already had collagen treatment and laser hair removal. She now goes to a VA hospital for hormone therapy.
She said response to her revelation have been split down the middle: Some of her former Seals have been supportive, while response from others has been more vitriolic.
“I fought for 20 years for life liberty and a pursuit of happiness,” she said. “I want some happiness.”