Lt. Taylor Miller is not the typical “Coastie” officer, a dig at the service, but one that she finds amusing. Her Texas accent sneaks out when she talks about something that excites her, case in point: Mexican food. California has a different variety than the Tex-Mex that she grew up with, but she’s still trying it. This is her favorite duty station so far. It’s been five years in the Coast Guard, and she’s been transitioning for about two and a half years. A near constant companion is Sunny, a pitbull/lab mix who walks on a leash made from a pink rope with a 5-in-1 knot for a shorter hold if need be.

Back home in Texas are her parents. A domineering mother pushed her to be perfect all through high school, the perfect son had the perfect grades, was the wide-receiver/cornerback and the captain of a the football team, captain of the track team, prom king, you name it. That resumé made for an easy “in” at the Coast Guard academy, a decision Taylor (then Tyler) had little input on. But all that time, she was battling depression. “Constantly, my entire life I was depressed… the first time I thought of committing suicide was in high school,” Miller said.

Then at the Coast Guard Academy, a place that she didn’t want to be, Miller withdrew and made few friends. The academy was the first place that Taylor had ever really been teased. “People would blatantly not invite me to things,” she said. “I can’t blame them, I just wasn’t approachable,” she added. With a torn hamstring freshman year, football and track were off the table at the academy; and her time at the academy didn’t get any easier. The only thing that kept her from quitting was fear of disappointing her mother.

Then during her junior year, she learned about transgendered people and things suddenly made sense. Girlfriends in high school never really went anywhere, but by and large, Taylor preferred the company of women over men; and by now she had begun to appreciate the Coast Guard and the doors that were about to open for her.