The Pentagon allowed four transgender service members to attend Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) and advocate for LGBT rights.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s move to ban transgender recruits from joining the military and end gender transition treatment, MTV invited transgender service members to the VMA event Sunday to represent equality.
“We would be honored if they could attend,” MTV President Chris McCarthy told NBC News 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.”
After reviewing MTV’s invitation, the Department of Defense (DOD) issued an approval for the service members to appear in their personal capacity.
“Four service members attended the event,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Service members represented the Air Force, Army and Navy.”
“This was a non-DOD and non-partisan event the servicemembers attended in their personal capacity,” Haverstick added.
According to Haverstick, since LGBT issues are not “exclusively associated” with a single political party, advocating on behalf of LGBT rights falls under “nonpartisan activities,” which are not prohibited under Pentagon regulations.
Army Capt. Jennifer Peace, one of the transgender service members to attend, strongly pushed for these LGBT rights while at the awards event.
“The only thing we’re asking for is to be treated just like everyone else in the military and be discriminated against only based on our performance,” Peace said.
This isn’t the first time MTV has used the VMA to make political statements. In 2010, Lady Gaga invited soldiers who had left the military or been discharged under the still active “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibited members of the military from being openly gay.
After waiting a month from his first announcement of the new transgender ban on Twitter, Trump officially signed the directive last Friday. The Pentagon now has six months to decide what to do with transgenders who are currently serving.
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