TODAY

TODAY   |  June 07, 2013

Transgender former Navy SEAL speaks out

The military doesn’t allow transgendered service members, so Kristin Beck, formerly Christopher, had to wait until retiring from service in 2011 to go public with her “whole new life.” She has written a book detailing her transformation.

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>>> now to the secret life of a former navy s.e.a.l., just been revealed and getting a lot of attention.

>> in a new memoir chris beck details his transformation to become kristen beck. kate snow has more on the story.

>> the u.s. military does not allow transgendered people to serve and women are not allowed to join the elite navy s.e.a.l.s. after his retirement the decorated navy s.e.a.l. went public with what she now describes as a whole new life. for 20 years he was christopher beck, fighting in some of the toughest spots on earth with navy s.e.a.l. team six, the same team that just months after beck's retirement went on to raid osama bin laden 's compound. beck survived the notoriously intense training and years in combat with wounds, a purple heart , and bronze star to prove it, but it turns out the most difficult battle chris would face was with himself.

>> no one ever met the real me.

>> reporter: christopher is now kristen , and in an interview with cnn's anderson cooper thursday she described what it was like to suppress her true feelings how a father of two, twice married would buy things as victoria's secret for himself.

>> there was a lot of guys in there buying stuff for their girlfriends, i'd buy a couple things, bring it home and wear it and then you have to purge because you can't have anything around.

>> reporter: in " warrior princess " beck says she was constantly told to be a boy but young christopher wanted to be like his sister saying "please god let me change bodies with hanna. please let me wake up in her body."

>> there was part of you who felt if you could become a s.e.a.l. and be in the toughest of the tough that feminine side of you would disappear?

>> yes, i could totally make it go away if i could be at that top level and be, maybe this would go away, maybe i could cure myself.

>> reporter: he worried if he told anyone he might be shot and kristen still knows not everyone will understand the decision to undergo hormone therapy and live as a woman.

>> i fought for 20 years for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. i want some happiness.

>> in the book, kristen says she went to the va for hormone therapy . she's had laser hair removal and collagen treatment so far and she says reaction to publicly telling her story has been about 50/50. some former s.e.a.l.s fully supporting her but she's heard a lot of bigotry and hatred.