In light of recent pressures to ban transgender personnel from serving in the US military, six active duty members and veterans within the transgender community spoke up- taking their grievances to the red carpet of the MTV Music Video Awards.
Despite raising questions of professionalism (and whether or not MTV even shows music videos anymore), the six were permitted to use MTV as a platform to speak out against the ban, as well as praise diversity.
“I believe that America was built on diversity,” USAF Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan B. Ireland said at the event. “To be able to be here to share that is a really good experience.”
Four out of the six transgender activists -Akira Wyatt, Jennifer Peace, Logan B. Ireland, and Sterling James Crutcher- are still in active duty, with some showing up in uniform. The other two -Brynn Tannehill and Laila Ireland- are no longer in service or subject to UCMJ.
Speaking with MTV hosts prior to the awards ceremony, the group claimed that the ban would result in dozens, even hundreds, of personnel being forced out of the service.
“Our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in our military,” the group protested.
In the eyes of the US military, transgender personnel are a tricky issue. Aside from costs and time required to undergo gender reassignment surgery (which keeps troops out of deployment circles or reliant on constant treatment), gender dysphoria still classified as a mental disorder by medical standards, with the transgender community suffering high suicide rates.
In short, transgender troops come off as a risky, expensive and frequently undeployable asset.
According to the Daily Mail, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) president Sarah Kate Ellis was also at the event and praised MTV for showcasing the veterans.
‘MTV has always been a leader dating back two decades with The Real World when they had the first person with AIDS on a show,” she said of the network. “MTV has always been a leader and a responder.”
MTV president Chris McCarthy offered his support to the transgender troops prior to the event.
“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,” he said.
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