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MTV confirmed Saturday that transgender members of the U.S. military will be in attendance at Sunday’s Video Music Awards. Four active duty members have been confirmed, as well as at least one military veteran.
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military, the cable network extended an invitation on Thursday to those transgender individuals already serving to attend the ceremony.
“MTV has invited transgender members of the U.S. Armed Forces to the 2017 Video Music Awards and we would be honored if they could attend,” MTV president Chris McCarthy said Thursday in a statement. “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.”
The Department of Defense also confirmed the invitation shortly thereafter. “DoD confirms that MTV has invited Service members in their personal capacity to this year’s VMAs,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick said in a statement.”At the request of the Services, DoD is reviewing the parameters of the individual invitations.”
The invitation comes nearly a month after President Trump first announced the ban in a series of a tweets on July 26, in which he stated that the U.S. government “will not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity” in the military. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory,” he wrote. “And cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”
However, details about how exactly the government would enforce the ban are only now coming to light. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that instructions about how to deal with the ban would arrive “in the coming days” and that the ban would begin sometime within the next six months. As part of the ban, the White House will begin directing the Pentagon to reject applications from transgender individuals hoping to serve. However, it remains unclear what will happen to transgender individuals who are already serving in the military.
A RAND.org study from 2016 approximates that there are anywhere from 1,320 to 6,630 active duty transgender members of the military.
This isn’t the first time members of the U.S. Armed Forces have been invited to the VMAs. In 2010, Lady Gaga attended the ceremony with four soldiers who had either been discharged or asked to leave the military because of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
Aug. 24, 3:15 p.m.: Updated confirmation and statement from the Pentagon.
Aug. 26, 10:30 a.m.: Updated with confirmation of attendance.
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