MTV has confirmed that transgender service members will be attending the 2017 VMAs tonight and walking the iconic VMA red carpet.
“Any patriot who is putting their own life at risk to fight for our freedom and stands for equality is a hero at MTV," MTV President Chris McCarthy told NewNowNext, "and to young people everywhere.”
GLAAD and SPARTA, a LGBT service members and veterans group, will be joining transgender service members Sterling James Crutcher, Logan Ireland, Jennifer Peace, and Akira Wyatt, and trans veterans Laila Ireland and Brynn Tannehill on the red carpet of the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards this Sunday.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis will walk with the service members, as well as August Getty, an LGBT philanthropist and fashion designer. The MTV VMA Pre-Show will air live outside of the Forum in Inglewood, California, on Sunday, August 27, at 7/6c and will be streamed live on MTV.com and on Twitter, beginning at 6pm.
They will also take over GLAAD’s Instagram during the red carpet segment and ceremony.
MTV invited these service members after President Trump announced his intention to bar transgender people from serving 'in any capacity' in the U.S. military. Late Friday evening, Trump officially directed the Pentagon to move forward with this discriminatory policy due to take effect on March 23, 2018. This runs counter to the support of the majority of Americans in all 50 states who believe transgender people should be allowed to openly serve in the U.S. military.
"MTV continues to be a pioneer and fierce advocate for the LGBTQ community by giving one of the most visible platforms to voices that need to be heard,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD.
“Throughout all the tweets, memos, and speculation, brave transgender Americans are still serving their country and defending the freedoms of this nation while meeting the same rigorous standards of their peers. We are proud to stand with them.”
“Our transgender service members have fought America’s wars with courage and honor. And they’ve done it with an additional burden, only recently allowed to be authentically themselves,” said Sue Fulton, West Point graduate, former Army Captain, and past president of SPARTA.
“They are valued by their fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and our nation’s military leaders for what they bring to the fight. I’m proud that they are willing to tell their stories publicly, to let America know who they are.”
Meet them below.
Air Force Airman First Class Sterling James Crutcher
Airman Crutcher currently serves as Munitions technician at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. First deployment was in at Qatar Air Base in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
In Qatar, he built munitions that aided in the war against ISIS.
Army Captain Jennifer Peace
CPT Peace enlisted in the military in 2005 and completed overseas tours in South Korea and Iraq. She redeployed, commissioned in 2009 as a Military Intelligence officer, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 with the 4th Infantry Division. She was the Distinguished Honor Graduate of the Intelligence Career Course in 2013.
CPT Peace began transitioning in January of 2014 after a reassignment to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, WA. She served as the primary staff intelligence officer within an Infantry battalion during the Pathway to the Pacific mission which took her to Malaysia and Japan where she was rated #1 out of 11 intelligence officers. She is currently serving as a headquarters company commander. CPT Peace lives in Spanaway, WA, with her wife and three children.
Navy Corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Akira Wyatt
Petty Officer Wyatt is currently stationed at Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. She is a Filipino-American who, at age 15, migrated to the United States from Cebu, Philippines. HM3 Wyatt enlisted in the United States Navy in May 2011 from Bellevue, Nebraska.
Wyatt trained as a “Greenside Corpsman,” providing medical support to United States Marines and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. She deployed with them to Okinawa, Japan, as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Deployment.
Jointly with Philippines-U.S Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) and while onboard USS Bonhomme Richard, HM3 Wyatt participated in shipboard medical and educational training for sailors and marines. Upon completion of her deployment, HM3 Wyatt transferred to the 5th Regiment 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines in October 2013. In November 2015, she reported to the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton 52 Area Branch Clinic alongside School of Infantry Command West (SOI West). Her primary duties include providing medical and educational needs for Marine Corps instructors/staff and students during operational field exercises and their families.
Former Navy Lt. Commander Brynn Tannehill
LCDR Tannehill graduated from the Naval Academy in 1997. She earned her Naval Aviator wings in 1999 and flew SH-60B helicopters and P-3C maritime patrol aircraft during three deployments between 2000 and 2004. She served as a campaign analyst while deployed overseas to 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain from 2005 to 2006.
In 2008 Brynn earned a M.S. in Operations Research from the Air Force Institute of Technology and transferred from active duty to the Naval Reserves. In 2008 Brynn began working as a senior defense research scientist in private industry. She left the drilling reserves and began transition in 2010. Since then she has written for numerous outlets as a blogger and featured columnist. She is a board member of the SPARTA and the Trans United Fund. Brynn and her wife Janis currently live in Springfield, VA, with their three children.
Air Force Staff Sergeant Logan B. Ireland
Staff Sergeant Logan Ireland currently serves as a Security Forces Base Defense Operations Center Controller at an Air Force Base in Colorado. Sergeant Ireland enlisted in the Air Force in 2010 and has been stationed in Missouri, guarding the B-2 stealth bomber and in Oklahoma, providing base security and law enforcement duties.
He deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014 as a lead convoy driver for outside-the-wire counter intelligence missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Throughout his deployment, he was treated as male in all respects, meeting or exceeding Air Force standards. In 2014 he was the first service member in the US Armed Forces to have his gender marker legally changed. Since being assigned to his current duty station in Colorado, he has deployed to Qatar, awarded the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter, and is a Combat Leader Course graduate. He is married to former Army Corporal Laila Ireland.
Retired Army veteran Laila Ireland
Veteran Laila Ireland is a retired Healthcare Management Administration Specialist and served for 12 years in the United States Army. She served two combat tours in Iraq and her final duty station was at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii where she was honorably discharged and medically retired in November 2015.
On June 4, 2015 Laila and her then fiancé, SSgt Logan Ireland, courageously came out as transgender service members by sharing their story in the Emmy-nominated New York Times short film Transgender, at War and in Love. The American Military Partners Association presented Laila with their Military Spouse Leadership Award in 2016 and she is the 2017 Military Spouse of the Year on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
"Our service members continue to step up proudly yet humbly—being visible at a time when their livelihoods are on the line yet again,” said Fiona Dawson, Director of TransMilitary. “We commend their courage for inviting their fellow citizens into their lives to know who they are as people, while at the same time serving our country and protecting our freedom. After five years of documenting their stories, we are inspired by how these Americans touch hearts and change minds."
GLAAD also partnered with Kesha to launched the "They Make Us Stronger" t-shirt campaign to raise money to help amplify the voices and transgender service members and veterans and give them national platforms, such as the VMAs, to share their stories.
Watch the 2017 VMAs, Sunday, August 27, at 8/7c on Logo and MTV, and red carpet coverage streamed live on MTV.com and on Twitter, beginning at 6pm. The service members will take over GLAAD’s Instagram during the red carpet segment.