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Arts and Entertainment

MTV Invites Transgender Military Members To VMAs

Rihanna accepting the video vanguard award at the 2016 VMAs (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
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The VMAs are Sunday night, and this year MTV extended an invitation to all transgender members of the military in response to President Trump's decision to bar new transgender recruits in the military. A US defense official told CNN the network had reached out to the military in an effort to recruit active transgender members to be guests at the Video Music wards. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Saturday that four active duty members and one veteran will be in attendance at the Forum on Sunday.

Initially, Pentagon Spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Haverstick told CNN "the Department of Defense is reviewing the parameters of the request," and it appears the request has been approved. In a statement, MTV president Chris McCarthy said, "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."

In July, President Trump tweeted he would implement a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Just a year prior, the Obama administration ended the ban on transgender people openly serving, but Trump's tweets appeared to reverse the decision. This week, Trump signed an official directive barring new transgender members of the military, but gave discretion to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on whether or not the ban applies to active members. A 2016 study by the RAND corporation estimated that between 2,000 and 11,000 transgender people serve in the military.

The VMAs have often been a site for celebrities to comment on politics. In 2010, Lady Gaga arrived on the red carpet with former servicemen who had been affected by the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Last year, Beyonce arrived with mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Oscar Grant III. This year, the VMAs have changed the name of their iconic "Moon Man" award statue; it is now known as the "Moon Person," because, as Chris McCarthy told the New York Times, "It could be a man, it could be a woman, it could be transgender, it could be nonconformist."

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The VMAs will be hosted at the Forum in Inglewood and start at 5 p.m.