Six transgender military service members mingled with the stars at Sunday’s 2017 MTV Video Music Awards to speak out about President’s Tump’s discriminatory transgender military ban.
Active soldiers Sterling James Crutcher, Logan Ireland, Jennifer Peace and Akira Wyatt, and veterans Laila Ireland and Brynn Tannehill walked the red carpet, posed for pictures with celebrities and were interviewed by the media.
MTV invited the service members to the glamorous event after Trump signed an order on Friday formally ordering the US military to no longer accept transgender men and women as recruits.
MTV President Chris McCarthy said in a statement: “Any patriot who is putting their own life at risk to fight for our freedom and stands for equality is a hero at MTV, and to young people everywhere.”
There were initially concerns that the military would not allow currently serving personnel to participate, but they were cleared to do so “in a personal capacity”.
Except for Former Navy Lt. Commander Brynn Tannehill, who served from 2000 to 2008, the group wore black t-shirts that stated which branch of the military they were from.
Peace, a Captain in the US Army, told MTV at the awards, that it was important for them to attend to help “put a face” to the issue. “All we want is to be treated like everyone else… based solely on our performance”.
She added: “It doesn’t matter who you are. Our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in the country serving our military. If you’re willing to serve our country and you’re among the most qualified in the nation you should be welcomed in the United States Armed Forces, just like everyone else.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of LGBTQ media lobby group GLAAD, praised MTV for their invitation to the military staff members. “MTV continues to be a pioneer and fierce advocate for the LGBTQ community by giving one of the most visible platforms to voices that need to be heard,” she said.
Trump’s order not only bans the military from accepting transgender recruits but also puts an end to it funding any “sex reassignment surgical procedures”.
The fate of already enlisted transgender personnel remains unclear; Trump told military chiefs that they must make a decision on whether or not they should be fired.
According to the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the US military, making the Department of Defense the largest employer of transgender people in America.