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.

So she stayed the course and graduated, not without some close calls from classmates nearly discovering her secret. Her first duty station was Guam. Miller was tasked with enforcing recreational boating safety and fisheries and enforcement. She dove into work as a junior officer, qualifying for her first position in 1/3 the projected time. At times she attempted to ‘quit being trans,’ until coming to accept it. Work didn’t slow down, and the fight with depression lead to weight loss and counseling. It got bad enough that she was going to get separated from the service for chronic depression.

While she was in Guam the District 14 admiral, Admiral Thomas came to visit from her HQ in Hawaii. In a question and answer session Thomas offered a command coin to anyone who asked the toughest question. Miller asked, “With the recent coming out of ex-Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, and her transition… has there been any talk with senior leadership about incorporating a trans-inclusive policy?” The admiral gave Miller a very diplomatic answer without really having an answer. She was stumped. Miller did not get the coin.

It didn’t affect my transition but what it did do was give me the courage to ask questions, kind of being pesky… (Beck) there’s a very prominent high-like-profile person who has done this, because it was all over the news and so I can drop someone’s name (in conversation) and we can talk about it and stuff.”

Taylor (still Tyler at this point) was walking around in day-to-day life, as a man. She occasionally went in public in female dress, but still harbored anxiety for fear of being discovered. Then one night a local followed her home from a bar. She was dressed in regular clothes, presenting as Tyler, and a man sexually assaulted her in her own apartment.