HOUSTON - Josphine Paulett Tittsworth is a proud veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, serving from 1973 to 1977. She had top security clearance, she rose to the rank of petty officer second class and received a Good Conduct Metal.
But her top-secret clearance wasn't the only secret about Josephine. At the time, she was a man named Joseph Paul Tittsworth, who was serving in the military with a strong desire to be a woman.
"I wore woman's clothes under my uniform," Josephine Tittsworth said. "I wore them under my dress uniform. I painted my toenails. I'd go to work."
If anyone found out, she said she would have been booted from the military.
Pointing to her medals, Tittsworth said, "My Good Conduct Medal ... right there? I call it my never-got-caught medal."
Tittsworth is proud of her service. To her, the news of President Donald Trump's tweet banning transgender individuals from the military felt like a betrayal.
"Now, they are trying to say we are third-class citizens not capable of serving our country and protecting our country," Tittsworth said.
With three tweets, President Trump rolled back the Obama administration's policy on transgender individuals serving in the military.
President Trump tweeted, "After consultation with my generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail."
Harris County's Republican Party chair, Paul Simpson, supports the president's announcement.
"So he's focused, I think, rightly and sensibly, on wars and keeping the country safe," Simpson said.
While President Trump cited concerns of "tremendous medical costs," a study by the Rand Corp. suggests the health care costs of having transgender military members are relatively low, representing .04 to .13 percent increases in health care costs to the military.
Simpson thinks it's more about military costs.
"The cost was one factor he mentioned; I think the other was military readiness," Simpson said. "And that's got to be the main focus. That our troops all (over) the world -- and we live in a very dangerous world today -- feel comfortable and prepared to fight for us and the United States. That's got to be our focus, not some social experiment."
Tittsworth believes the focus should be on a person's service.
"Even though I wore women's clothes underneath my uniform, I did my duty," Tittsworth said.
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