President Joe Biden this week reversed the federal transgender military ban implemented under former President Donald Trump’s administration. It’s another sea change in the lives of transgender Michiganders who’ve spent lifetimes reading shifting terrain. Blaire McIntyre is a Michigan Army National Guard specialist who fought against the ban in federal court.
“I felt like for the first time in a long time that I was actually seen, and I was actually noticed. And not just me, but my entire community, the entire LGBTQ community,” McIntyre said. McIntyre is a trans woman and previously served in active-duty combat in Afghanistan.
Despite her years of service, McIntyre says she was threatened with a discharge under the 2019 ban. That was the same year she came out as trans to her family and coworkers. While the military has a reputation for being a hypermasculine space, McIntyre says most of her coworkers supported her transition.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed a challenge to the ban on behalf of McIntyre. That court case is being dropped with news of the reversal. McIntyre says there’s been a weight lifted off her and other transgender service members’ shoulders.
“Anytime you ban a group of people or you keep a group of people out in the sense it feels like it dehumanizes you. And like I said, from all my friends that are transgender in service, it seems like it's pretty across the board. We're all feeling that there's a light on us again,that we're noticed,” McIntyre said.
But even now that the ban has been lifted, the policy still hasn’t been amended to allow transgender people to present themselves as the gender they identify as while on the job. That means McIntyre still has to dress and present as male when she is on duty.
“I still am forced to go to work presenting male. There has been no guidance yet put down from the new policy as to what that entails,” McIntyre said. “So this entire fight, I've been forced to go into work presenting as a male, even though I'm legally a woman, I'm medically a woman.”
McIntyre’s commanding officers still sometimes refer to her with male pronouns, which can make for uncomfortable situations. She hopes this policy eventually goes beyond reversing Trump’s ban, and actually allows military members to serve as their true selves.
“You know, it's the Army's famous slogan is hurry up and wait. But there's thousands of trans people that are in that have waited long enough,” McIntyre said. “And I really hope that the new policy, whatever the details are for that, that it allows trans people to have an easier transition from, you know, their first gender to their gender that they identify with.”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan.