A transgender woman who served in Afghanistan as a member of the 101st Airborne Division but was being kicked out of the Michigan National Guard will drop her discrimination lawsuit in light of a new policy announced Monday by the Biden administration, her attorney said.
Blaire McIntyre, who was male gender at birth but identifies as a female, sued in federal court in Grand Rapids in October, asking a judge to declare unconstitutional a policy issued under former President Donald Trump forcing transgender service members to discharge from the U.S. military.
On Monday, President Joe Biden fulfilled a campaign promise and reversed the Trump policy, which in itself had reversed an earlier U.S. Defense Department policy that allowed transgender troops to serve openly.
Biden signed an executive order Monday “that sets the policy that all Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve,” the White House said in a news release.
“President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, and that America’s strength is found in its diversity.”
Shannon Minter, who represents McIntyre Minter as legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, California, said McIntyre will move to dismiss her lawsuit, which named as defendants Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Paul Rogers, the adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard and director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
McIntyre was never seeking monetary damages, but only to be treated with equality, Minter said.
“I feel like I am really exhaling today for the first time in a long time,” McIntyre said in a statement issued through Minter.
“It is a tremendous relief to know that I will now be able to go to work every day and give my all without worrying that I could be discharged just because of who I am. I’m incredibly grateful to see this ban overturned for myself, my family and for the thousands of other transgender service members who are dedicated to our work and our service.”
Biden’s order will impact thousands of current U.S. service members and many others who want to serve but were barred by the discriminatory order, Minter said.
“This is really important,” Minter said. “Military service has always been an important avenue for transgender people to move ahead in the world” because it is “one of the very few workplaces where everybody gets a chance to be a leader.”
McIntyre, who is from Roscommon and joined the Michigan Army National Guard in 2015, earlier served in the active duty Army, including a stint in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne, a highly distinguished light infantry division of the U.S. Army known as the “Screaming Eagles,” specializing in air assault operations.
She is on duty two weeks per year and one weekend per month as a member of the National Guard, and, when not on duty, serves as a uniformed civilian National Guard employee specializing in armament. She must maintain her National Guard membership to keep her civilian job.
Trump changed the prior Defense Department policy when he issued a series of tweets on July 26, 2017.
McIntyre sued Whitmer because she serves in the Michigan National Guard and it was state officials enforcing the federal policy, Minter said.
(c) 2021 the Detroit Free Press
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.