A retired Navy SEAL Team 6 hero who came out as transgender had a message for President Donald Trump after he announced a ban on transgender people from serving in the military: Tell me in person that I’m not worthy.
“Let’s meet face to face and you tell me I’m not worthy,” Kristen Beck, a 20-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, told Business Insider on Wednesday. “Transgender doesn’t matter. Do your service.”
Beck said Trump’s abrupt change in policy could negatively affect many currently or wanting to serve in the military. A Rand Corporation study estimates there are between 1,320 to 6,630 transgender people currently serving. Many of them just want to serve their country like everyone else, Beck said.
“Being transgender doesn’t affect anyone else,” Beck said. “We are liberty’s light. If you can’t defend that for everyone that’s an American citizen, that’s not right.”
Beck is not just your average service member. Born Christopher Beck, she served for 20 years in the Navy with SEAL Teams 1, 5, and eventually, the elite SEAL Team 6. She deployed 13 times over two decades, to include stints in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. She received the Bronze Star award for valor and the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat.
“I was defending individual liberty,” she said. “I defended for Republicans, I defended for Democrats. I defended for everyone.”
In a series of tweets, Trump said the decision was based on cost factors of medical services that would be utilised by transgender service members, but, Beck said, “The money is negligible. you’re talking about .000001% of the military budget.”
“They care more about the aeroplane or the tank than they care about people,” Beck said. “They don’t care about people. They don’t care about human beings.”
When asked about potential problems of unit cohesion or war fighting, Beck said those were not issues that arise from transgender service members. Instead, she framed them as issues of leadership.
“A very professional unit with great leadership wouldn’t have a problem,” Beck said. “I can have a Muslim serving right beside Jerry Falwell and we’re not going to have a problem. It’s a leadership issue, not a transgender issue.”