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Michelle Douglas

By standing up for what was right, Michelle Douglas helped pave the way for 2SLGBTQI+ rights in Canada's military.

Ottawa, Ontario


Michelle Douglas




  • Canadian Armed Forces
  • Special Investigations Unit


Michelle Douglas was born in Ottawa. As a young woman, she pursued studies in law and graduated at the top of her class in 1987. She then joined the Canadian Armed Forces.


Her military career initially seemed promising. She served as an air force second lieutenant, and then was invited to join the Special Investigations Unit, uncovering criminal activity in the military. One of the first female officers to join this group, she was a trailblazer in her field. However, she would unfortunately encounter major professional barriers.

Outed and ousted

Michelle wanted a military career. To remain in uniform she had to hide her personal life from the military and from her colleagues.

However, weeks after accepting a new position, her superiors forced Michelle to undergo intense interrogations about her sexual orientation.

She eventually was pressured to disclose the truth and was demoted and discharged from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1989. Her release form cited that she was “not advantageously employable due to homosexuality.”

Launching a legal challenge

Douglas had reluctantly accepted her dismissal. However, she joined three fellow 2SLGBTQI+ military members who had also been discharged to launch a legal challenge.

Hers was the first case to be heard and in 1992, just before it went to trial, the Canadian Armed Forces settled out of court and formally reversed its unfair rules.

By standing up for what was right, Douglas helped pave the way for 2SLGBTQI+ rights in our country’s military.


Historica Canada

Women in Canadian History: Michelle Douglas

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