After graduating from Carleton University in 1985, Douglas joined the Canadian Forces in 1986, and was soon promoted to the Special Investigations Unit. In 1989, however, she came under investigation and was dismissed because she was a lesbian, despite having an exemplary service record and repeatedly being at the top of her class. She was dismissed under administrative release item 5d: "Not Advantageously Employable Due to Homosexuality".
Douglas subsequently launched a court challenge where she was represented by Clayton Ruby. In October 1992, just before Douglas' legal challenge went to trial, the Canadian military abandoned its policy banning gays and lesbians and settled the case.
Douglas went on to be the founding president of the Foundation for Equal Families, and later served at chair of the board of The 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. Since 2005, Douglas has served on the Canadian board of directors of Free the Children. She was in a relationship with journalist Irshad Manji for several years, although they broke up in 2008.
A portrait of Douglas, by artist Laura Spaldin, is held by the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives' National Portrait Collection, in honour of her role as a significant builder of LGBT culture and history in Canada.
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