A transgender woman who went absent without leave from the US Military 31 years ago has received an honourable discharge.

Elizabeth Tremblay joined the service in 1980 before she had transitioned from male to female.

After completing boot camp at a base in California and facing a forced move to North Carolina, Tremblay decided to leave the marines, and fled to her home state of Maine, effectively becoming a deserter.

The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office last September discovered a warrant and desertion charge against Tremblay in a federal database.

Tremblay was arrested and jailed for more than two days. She’s been waiting since then for the discharge, and finally got the good news in her official discharge papers that were received earlier this week.

When Tremblay enlisted, she was promised that she would be trained in teletype communications. But after her duties were changed to driving jeeps and trucks, she decided to leave without being properly discharged or granted leave.

After returning to Maine and working at L.L. Bean and Bates of Maine, Tremblay began taking hormones, changed her name to Elizabeth and underwent partial gender transition surgery.

During that time, Tremblay says she never received any word that the US Marines were looking for her. She told the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal that there were no phone calls or letters, and she lived openly in the community.

When she received her discharge papers on Monday, she was pleased to see that the military had used her new name, Elizabeth Marie Tremblay. The papers made no mention of why it was an honourable discharge.