These Transgender Service Members Gave A Face To Trump's Ban At The VMAs

"Our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in our country serving in the military."

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a directive to ban transgender individuals from joining the military, following through on plans first announced on Twitter last month. In anticipation of this action, it was reported last week that MTV had invited transgender service members to attend Sunday night'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, and to young people everywhere," network President Chris McCarthy said in a statement.

Six transgender members of the military accepted the invitation and, according to People, walked the red carpet with leaders from GLAAD and SPARTA, a group for LGBT service members. They included Air Force airman Sterling James Crutcher, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan B. Ireland, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, Navy corpsman Akira Wyatt, Army vet Laila Ireland, and former Navy Lt. Commander Brynn Tannehill.

"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," Laila Ireland told Billboard about the appearance. "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."

The special guests posed for photos together (including one with comedian Billy Eichner) and spoke with MTV on the red carpet, sending a timely message of inclusion and putting a face to the countless men and women who would be affected by this ban.

"It doesn't matter who you are, our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in our country serving in the military," Jennifer Peace told the show, adding, "If you're willing to serve our country and you're among the most qualified in the nation, you should be welcome in the United States armed forces just like everyone else."

It's not the first time the VMAs red carpet has made a political statement. Last year, Beyoncé brought four members of the Mothers of the Movement to the show. The group is comprised of women whose children were killed by police violence.

See several transgender service members speak with MTV below:


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