WATCH: Freshman GOP lawmaker and former Navy SEAL walks a careful line on transgender troops  

Virginia Beach, Va. — Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorVirginia New Members 2019 Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Record number of female veterans to serve in next Congress MORE works his congressional district much like he navigated the battlefield as a Navy SEAL.

While Congress left town for the five-week August recess, the freshman GOP lawmaker was up at the crack of dawn, working the streets alongside local sanitation crews, then off to a town hall meeting with maritime workers inside a district as demographically diverse as it is military heavy.


His laser focus on intelligence gathering and assessing the playing field is apparent as he gets his finger on the pulse of the people who put him in office. And when it comes to transgender individuals serving in the military — catapulted to hot button status after tweets from President Trump — Taylor walks a careful line.

"I don’t support the ban on transgenders,” he told The Hill in an interview, putting him at odds with his president and some GOP faithful, but aligned with the majority of servicemen and women who fill his district.

“If you are able to serve, serve. I don’t care if you are gay, straight, transgender or not. If you are ready to go, cool,” he said.

But the 38-year-old freshman also harbors another strong sentiment: The military should not bear the medical costs for any gender-reassignment surgeries, and he voted against such a measure earlier this year.

“This is where the split is: If you are mentally, physically, psychologically [ready] and ready to serve, I think you should serve; If I am not mentally, physically, psychologically ready to serve in any capacity I can't serve … If you go into the military and you are not ready and need gender reassignment, then you are not ready,” he explained.

“That is a readiness issue. It’s not a social thing,” he added, for emphasis.

His position is echoed by at least one of his constituents, a self-described Trump backer who opposes tax money going toward health care for transgender individuals serving in the military.

“Why should the public pay for it? It’s our tax money,” Lynwood Manuel, a retiree constituent in the 2nd district, said in an interview with The Hill.

The Hill video team encountered Manuel on a recent day over the “district work period,” when Taylor granted us access to trail him around Virginia’s 2nd district.

Taylor greeted Manuel during the lawmakers’ morning “shift in your shoes” duties as a garbage man in a tony Virginia Beach neighborhood.

Following a quick clothes change, Taylor and aide Scott Weldon continued with an open mic session at an association of maritime industry workers and wrapped up with district office meetings, including an info session with a handful of Girl Scouts and an education group collaboration on legislation updating Pell Grant awards.

Taylor says he’s “comfortable” representing a purple district that is a top Democratic target in 2018; Four Democrats vie to take him on in a general election match-up if he wins a GOP primary contest.

“I’m comfortable with the Democrats,” and Republicans challenging him “on the right, the far right, that's not going to stop me from doing what I said I was going to do … we’re not focused on any opponents, just focused on the things that we're going to deliver on,” he said.

The single father of one paves his own, unorthodox road to success in the GOP. 

“You’ve heard of Big Brothers, Big Sisters? I’m a little brother … I was a wayward kid,” Taylor shared with the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast higher ups during their meeting.

At a separate event, he was introduced as a “former wrestler,” who went on to “wrestle bad guys as a NAVY Seal” and then eventually “a sniper.”

Taylor embraces his positions that run contrary to his party and president.

For example, he calls it a “mistake” for the last Congress to ban earmarks.

“It's in Congress's purview to deal with earmarks; They are still done, they are just done in the executive branch,” the freshman appropriator said.

And on a host of other matters, including rights for the LGBT community, criminal justice reform and acceptance of climate change, Taylor says “mainly that’s not considered an orthodox Republican viewpoint, but to me, that’s who I am and that’s what I believe in.”

Taylor's reelection odds fell in the "likely Republican" column of political handicapper Charlie Cook's most recent House race rating.

Watch the video above to see Taylor in action.