Metro Weekly

Michigan Army National Guard specialist sues state in challenge to transgender military ban

Lawsuit contends that the ban is unconstitutional and that Obama-era policy allowing trans people to serve openly was sufficient

Michigan Army National Guard Specialist Blaire McIntyre – Photo courtesy of Blaire McIntyre.

A Michigan Army National Guard specialist has sued the state in what is yet another challenge to the United States’ ban on transgender service members.

On Friday, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on behalf of Michigan Army National Guard Specialist Blaire McIntyre.

McIntyre, who has served in the Guard since April 2015 and previously deployed to Afghanistan, now faces discharge after disclosing her transgender status.

McIntyre also works as a uniformed civilian National Guard employee specializing in armament. Because of her position as a “dual status technician,” discharge from the National Guard would also result in the loss of her civilian position.

“I’ve proudly dedicated the past five years to the Michigan Army National Guard. Along with my monthly weekend and annual two weeks on duty, I work full-time supporting the Guard’s mission as a uniformed dual status technician,” McIntyre said in a statement. “My Commanding Officer, my civilian supervisor, and my peers rely on me to give my all every day, and I want nothing more than to continue offering my best service. But the transgender military ban means I am not only facing discharge from the Guard, but termination from my civilian job as well. My wife and I are raising two young children, and that loss would be devastating to our family.”

The lawsuit, which names Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, in her capacity as Commander-in-chief of the Michigan National Guard, and Paul Rogers, in his official capacity as Adjutant General of the Michigan National Guard, argues that the ban on transgender military personnel violates McIntyre’s right to equal protection and due process under the law.

Furthermore, the lawsuit states: “Not only does the Constitution protect Ms. McIntyre’s right to serve openly, to obtain medically necessary medical care based on the same standards applied to other service members, and — like non-transgender people — to live consistently with her gender identity, but DoD has already developed and implemented an open-service policy that does just that,” referring to the Obama administration’s “open service” policy that was in effect until President Trump signaled his intention, via Twitter, to bar all transgender military personnel.

“Specialist McIntyre has clearly demonstrated her fitness to serve and her value and dedication to the Michigan National Guard,” Jennifer Levi, the Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD, said in a statement. “To discharge her under a policy based on bias, not fact, is unlawful, unconscionable, and would serve no purpose other than to deprive the Guard of a skilled, committed soldier and a talented and experienced civilian employee.”

“Being transgender has nothing to do with an individual’s fitness to serve,” Shannon Minter, the legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “Specialist McIntyre has proven again and again over the past five years that she can meet military standards. To threaten to discharge McIntyre and thousands of other transgender service members because of something that has absolutely no bearing on their qualifications does a disservice to our military and to all those who have stepped up to serve their country.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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