Kristin Beck says that in February 2013 she was beat up in Ybor City, sucker-punched from behind for being transgender.
It wasn’t the first time that Beck, a decorated former Navy SEAL, ever got into a scrape.
During her 20 years in uniform, Beck did 13 combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, serving along the way with SEAL Team 1, SEAL Team 5 and SEAL Team 6. Then she was known as Senior Chief Petty Officer Christopher Beck.
But Beck, 48, says the attack in Ybor City, not long after going public about her sexuality, got her thinking even more about how the public views transgender people.
That attack, she says, helped motivate her to tell her story in a documentary being aired at 9 tonight on CNN.
“The amount of violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people is sickening,” said Beck in a telephone interview. “What I fought for as a Navy SEAL, that all goes away. Everything I was fighting for, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everything that is good and right in the world, I am denied. I have to live in fear and live in shame.”
“Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story” is a two-hour film produced by Mark Herzog and Christopher G. Cowan.
The film intersperses footage that Beck shot during his SEAL training, home movies and interviews with those who knew Beck before and after she unveiled her new self, including her ex-wife and mother of their two children.
With so much military footage, Beck said, she hopes this is a film unlike any other about a transgender person.
“There are a lot of transgendered films out there,” she said. “But once people watch them for 10 minutes, they turn it off. This is built a little differently. There is SEAL team stuff. A lot of shooting. A lot of everything else. Hopefully this will reach a wider audience.”
The film has made the rounds of film festivals and in the LGBT community. By airing it on CNN, Beck said, she no longer is just “preaching to the choir.”
“Maybe after people see this, they won’t have the same bigotry and hatred,” Beck said.
“I am just a person,” she said. “Maybe the next time, instead of getting jumped and beaten in Tampa, maybe those people who did that will realize what a terrible thing it was and have compassion and empathy.”
“Lady Valor” will be available in simulcast tonight through CNN for iPad and on CNN’s online and mobile platforms.
It also will run on CNN/US at 9 p.m. Saturday.