By Kris Beck
Your "First Life" is the life the creator gives you.
My name is Chris Beck; later in life I changed my name to Kristin Beck. Much of my life was as a Navy SEAL running around the world doing my best to be a "sheepdog," keeping the world safe.
I grew up in the 70’s, played football, fished and rode bikes. On the outside I was a full up rough and tumble boy. On the inside I wished I was my sister, I wished for a different life.
I still remember the first time I dressed up, with the help of my sister, around age 8. It was a purple ballerina outfit; I had fun jumping on the bed and spinning around to make the skirt flare. It was great fun until my dad came in and yelled at me. I didn't even know it was wrong until I got a backhand. My dressing up went on from there, but in private, hidden from view.
When I was growing up I would try to have a bedroom in the attic or basement. In one house I dressed up in an old tool shed out back, fixing it up into a livable room. These spaces afforded me privacy, which was otherwise unattainable in a family of seven. These “Private Idahos” became my safe girl havens with hiding spots for clothes and such. I could dress in relative peace and have enough warning to cover up if anyone came near. I learned about Radio Shack electronic sensors and mirrors at an early age. I would go up to my room to do "homework" and go to bed early nearly every night. It was a way to be alone and be dressed. I would do the homework of course, but also listen to the radio and write poetry. Most importantly, I was able to do it all en femme.
I would also stay home "sick" from school throughout junior high and high school and dress all day in my sister’s clothes. I became very careful and precise, returning everything in neat order. I slowly collected my own panties, hosiery, skirt, shoes and other assorted items.
After college I ended up with a few full outfits, but periodically purged my closet and tried not to dress.
The purge, oh the purge. So painful, but necessary to fight off the urge and be normal in the eyes of society or yourself. Purging is a time of getting rid of everything of your alter gender identity, of throwing it all in the dumpster and trying to be what they want - to live up to the expectations of parents, of yourself, of society, of everyone.
Even with the purges, the thoughts never left my mind, and I would end up going back to Victoria’s Secret and the thrift stores to slowly rebuild my wardrobe. The purges were expensive and didn't help at all – they just made the void bigger. Or they would make me more resolute to be myself, my real self. The purges - the dang purges! I will always remember this one pair of strappy wedges. They had very nice Asian flowers around the heel. They were so nice. I wish I still had that pair of shoes. I still, to this day, almost 30 years later keep my eye out for a replacement.
I remember in high school and college how I envied how “normal” guys thought and acted. When I see a woman, I see her shoes and outfit and envy how beautiful she is. Wishing I was her, wishing I had her shape, wishing I had her face, soft and pretty. Normal Guy sees a great ass he wants to sleep with… I felt that I got a bad hand in life and that I had a problem.
I lamented all the thoughts and energy that I put into wishing or trying to be a girl; it was not right and wasted time. I imagined how great it would be not to think this way, to be “normal.” I couldn't stop the way I thought or what I wanted to be. I kept dressing up, guilt ridden and full of angst. It was a deep-seated need from somewhere.
The "Second Life" is the one you make yourself, building experiences and knowledge based upon your “First Life.” Your first and second lives are very tightly woven, most of the time.
My “Second Life” started when I joined the military. I was sent into combat many times; I have seen the elephant and returned. I lived the military life for 20 years.
I joined the Navy SEALs in 1990. Went to SEAL Team One and deployed on tours over and over…kind of on a death wish or something. I don’t know. The SEALs offered me an escape into hyper-masculinity and a way maybe to cure myself of feminine thoughts. I did forget and pushed my feminine identity deep, very deep into the depths of my mind and soul. It was like a 20 year purge with only a few relapses. I was very happy in the SEALs. It was great work, I was a super sheepdog, fighting the wolves.
I went on to other SEAL Teams and finally ended up in the top SEAL team in the US Military, the team that did the Bin Laden and the Somali pirates missions. I still dressed up in private, but rarely while I was working in the SEALs; it just looked and felt funny with a huge beard wearing a dress and heels, but it always made me feel better inside.
My rather unorthodox "Third Life" is my dream and something I need to do if I am going to survive. I also hope to make a positive difference in a few lives along the way.
This “Third Life” I am now living has been a part of me since childhood, bottled up due to societal pressure, the military, family pressures and worst of all religion.
My "Third Life" is to live as a woman and speak out on behalf of the LGBTQ community, bringing equality and peace to EVERY person. We need to get past race, color, religion, gender, age, nation of origin, sexual preference and all of the things that are on the surface.
In the past 20 years, times have changed and people are coming to grips with the transgender world. I missed growing up as a teenage girl, slumber parties, shopping and small talk; maybe I am catching up. It must be pretty cool to be a kid growing up now, with much more acceptance than we had in the 70s. I envy them, but then again, the youth today have a myriad of other stresses on them. One of my hopes is to be an example for some of them to look up to. We can all be anything and do anything, you just have to believe and work hard. It is all possible, just don’t ever give up.
I retired from the military after 20 years in February of 2011. In 2010, two days before Halloween, I bought a full set of makeup from MAC and a nice wig. I went to a gay bar and had the scariest time of my life "coming out" for the first time en femme. It was scarier than firefights in Afghanistan or jumping from ship to ship in the Arabian Gulf against pirates. I almost didn’t go in to the bar.
I went out almost every night after Halloween, my courage was at a max and I had to do it. I met a drag queen who gave me some pointers and did my makeup for New Year’s Eve. It was awesome (thank you Cherry). That night was the best ever, and really gave me the full realization that I could do this. I looked good, and I felt great.
The make-up quickly came a long way, thanks to the help from my friendly neighborhood drag queens. Fashion on the other hand has come at a very slow rate. I started out with sky-high heels and hooker outfits or worse - I dressed like a teenager. A forty-year-old Hanna Montana is not a pretty sight. I have received some sage advice from my sisters and have gotten quite a few hand-me-downs from them in the past years.
The internet is the best thing to happen to our group, which turns out not to be individuals on islands in quiet desperation, but a vast network of people just trying to be happy. The Internet has brought the little islands of cross-dressers and transgender people together. It is a wonderful thing for us. Facebook and other sites have afforded us a way to not be alone or isolated in our dysfunction. It has been a blessing to meet people from all over the world on the Internet, trade ideas and share experiences and even learn a few things. Sometimes these internet societies make for a real life meeting between people, which turns into a friendship that otherwise would have been impossible.
I enjoy life more as Kristin, laugh more and have great friends as this person. There is so much more to life than I ever expected when I was that lonely isolated kid wearing my sister’s outfits.