MTV has reached out to the military in an effort to bring active duty transgender military service members to Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards, a US defense official told CNN.
It’s an invitation that is likely to draw attention to transgender service members, an issue that has become politically charged in the wake of President Donald Trump’s July tweets that appeared to call for the reinstatement of a ban on transgender persons serving in the military.
Pentagon Spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick told CNN Wednesday that “MTV has requested service member participation for this year’s VMAs.”
“At this time the Department of Defense is reviewing the parameters of the request,” Haverstick said.
Active duty military members face restrictions in participating in high-profile national public events, particularly those with a political bent.
“MTV has invited transgender members of the US armed forces to the 2017 Video Music Awards and we would be honored if they could attend,” said Chris McCarthy, president of MTV. “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.”
The VMAs are all about moments – from Kanye West famously interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech in 2009 to Miley Cyrus twerking in 2013.
But they’re also a chance for artists to make political statements.
In 2010, Lady Gaga sought to bring attention to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when she walked the red carpet with four servicemen and a servicewoman who had been discharged or opted to leave the military because they were openly gay or bisexual.
And last year during the presidential election season ‘NSync alum Lance Bass donned a jacket that read “Love Trumps Hate” while Beyonce referenced the Black Lives Matter movement during her performance.
Trump announced his plan to reinstate a ban on transgender service members on Twitter last month, a move that took the Joint Chiefs of Staff by surprise.
Despite the tweets, the Pentagon continues to await formal policy guidance from the White House before making any changes, emphasizing that transgender military members will be allowed to continue to serve openly in the interim.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said earlier this month that the White House had still not provided policy guidance on transgender persons serving in the military, adding that they were still studying the issue, raising the prospect that transgender service members may be allowed to continue to serve despite Trump’s July announcement.
“We are going to study the issue,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon. “The policy is going to address whether or not transgenders can serve under what conditions, what medical support they require, how much time would they be perhaps non-deployable, leaving others to pick up their share of everything.”
“There’s a host of issues and I’m learning more about this than I ever thought I would, and it’s obviously very complex to include the privacy issues, which we respect,” Mattis said. “I am waiting right now to get the President’s guidance in, and that, I expect, (will) be very soon.”
But Trump again reiterated his desire to reinstate the ban while addressing reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, earlier this month.
“It’s been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I’m doing the military a great favor,” Trump told reporters.