MTV Honors Transgender Military Members at 2017 VMAs
By Meredith B. Kile
As President Donald J. Trump continues to take political action aimed at banning transgender troops from the U.S. military, MTV did its part to thank the brave men and women who risk their lives to protect their fellow citizens by honoring several transgender active duty service members and veterans at Sunday’s Video Music Awards.
"Any patriot who is putting their own life at risk to fight for our freedom and stand for equality is a hero at MTV," network president Chris McCarthy said in a statement.
Six of these military members walked the VMA red carpet on Sunday, and posed for photographs alongside music’s biggest names: Air Force Airman First Class Sterling James Crutcher, Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan B. Ireland, U.S. Army Captain Jennifer Peace, Navy Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt, Army veteran Laila Ireland, and Former Navy Lt. Commander Brynn Tannehill.
"It is such an honor and I'm so happy to be able to represent the community of trans service members," Wyatt told Billboard prior to Sunday’s awards show.
"Our nation stays safe because we have the best and brightest defending it," added Peace. "So I hope that people who are watching [the VMAS] see it and think, "Hey, if we're excluding these individuals who are qualified and capable to serve, and we're kicking them out -- and we're not filing new people into the service solely based on them being transgender, and not based on their potential, are we as safe as we should be?"
On Friday, President Trump on Friday signed a memorandum directing the military not to move forward with an Obama-era plan that would have allowed transgender individuals to be recruited into the armed forces and banning the Department of Defense from using its resources to provide medical treatment regimens for transgender individuals currently serving in the military.
"Historically, the VMAs have been a huge platform for social issues that are currently happening, so being able to have that platform and share our stories is important to us," said Ireland. "We don't just represent our own stories, we represent all the stories that can't be told, voices that can't be heard, and I think it's very important to share that."
And the soldiers were equally excited about the chance to rub elbows with some of their favorite and most inspirational artists. "I'm very passionate about Kesha,” Crutcher told Billboard. “I love her as a person and an artist.”
"These brave and inspiring service members are not only serving our country and protecting us all, but now thanks to MTV their stories will reach billions around the world and demonstrate how unjust and unpatriotic President Trump's proposed ban is," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told ET in a statement.