A group of transgender service members will be attending the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, just days after President Donald Trump signed a directive banning transgender individuals from being recruited by the U.S. military. Four current members of the armed forces and two veterans who are transgender will walk the red carpet with the support of GLAAD and SPARTA, a group that represents LGBTQ servicemembers and veterans.
After announcing on Twitter in July that he would reverse an Obama-era plan to allow transgender individuals to openly serve in the military, Trump signed a military memorandum on August 25 to ban the armed forces from recruiting transgender individuals. A White House official told CNN that Trump also told the departments of Defense and Homeland Security “to determine how to address transgender individuals currently serving based on military effectiveness and lethality, unitary cohesion, budgetary constraints, applicable law, and all factors that may be relevant.”
MTV’s plans were first reported by CNN. Timothy Hyde, deputy director in the U.S. Army Public Office, told INTO that the servicemembers will be allowed to attend in a “personal capacity” and cannot wear their uniforms.
“They have been told that they can accept the invitation, but they have to do so in a personal capacity and be in civilian clothes,” Hyde told INTO. “They will be representing themselves, not the military.”
GLAAD said the group will be joined by GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and fashion designer August Getty, who is also a LGBTQ activist.
Meet the transgender servicemembers attending the VMAs.
Sterling James Crutchner
Sterling James Crutchner’s post about proudly serving his country went viral on Facebook after Trump’s tweets in July. He is still in the Air Force as a Munitions technician at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and served in Qatar earlier this year.
“I have fought and work hard to prove my worth, not only in the military but in everyday life. If there is anything I have learned from my grandfather, it is to always be above reproach and live proudly. I will continue to do so, no matter what the ignorant and uneducated do. My life shall be an example of truth,” Crutchner wrote.
Jennifer Peace is a Captain in the Army and has served in South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mayasia and Japan. She is a decorated intelligence officer and was rated #1 out of 11 officers after a Pacific Pathways mission. She lives in Spanaway, Washington and is married with three children.
Navy Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt is stationed at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. She was born in the Philippines and arrived in the U.S. at age 15. She enlisted in 2011 and served in Japan and participated in a joint operation with the Philippine army.
Brynn Tannehill is a former Navy Lt. Commander. She’s a graduate from the Naval Academy and served in 2010, when she began her transition. During her Navy career, she served in Bahrain. Today, she is a board member of the SPARTA and the Trans United Fund. She lives in Springfield, Virginia with her wife and their three children.
Logan B. Ireland
Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan B. Ireland is a Security Forces Base Defense Operations Center Controller at a Colorado Air Force base. He enlisted in 2010 and served in Afghanistan in 2014. GLAAD notes that he was treated as a man during his service and he became the first Armed Forces member to have his gender marker legally changed in 2014. He also served in Qatar and received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Lastly, Army veteran Laila Ireland will join the group at the VMAs. She served in the Army for 12 years and did two combat tours in Iraq. Ireland will look familiar to some, as she came out in the Emmy-nominated film Transgender, At War And In Love. In the film her then-fiance, Logan Ireland, also came out. In 2016, she received the Military Spouse Leadership Award from the American Military Partners Association.