Transgender service members are sending a message on the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet.
A group of transgender military members and veterans walked the red carpet at the annual award show on Sunday with leaders of GLAAD and SPARTA, an LGBTQ service members and veterans group.
Airman Sterling James Crutcher, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Navy corpsman Akira Wyatt, and trans veterans Laila Ireland and Brynn Tannehill were seen on the iconic red carpet.
The group sported wide smiles as they hugged close and posed for photos on the carpet. Many wore shirts with their military positions on the front, while Tannehill opted for her full uniform.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in our country serving in the military,” Peace said on the carpet. “There was a time when blacks couldn’t serve, women couldn’t serve, where gays and lesbians couldn’t serve, and there was a time when trans people couldn’t serve.”
She continued: “But today the armed forces are open to everyone regardless of your race, gender, religion, or anything else. If you’re willing to serve our country and you’re among the most qualified in the nation, you should be welcome in the United States armed forces just like everyone else.”
Trump on Friday ordered the Department of Defense to reverse a 2016 order allowing transgender individuals to serve openly in the military. Under the new policy, announced on a call with reporters Friday evening, the military will be indefinitely barred from accepting new transgender troops, and new trans-related medical treatments will be blocked.
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The memo comes one month after Trump announced the proposed ban in a series of tweets, saying that the “military must be focused” and “cannot be burdened” with the medical costs of transgender military members. The tweets left the Joint Chiefs of Staff scrambling to figure out how to interpret and implement the decision.
In the wake of the headline-making announcement many transgender service members spoke out about the news to PEOPLE, with Peace saying that eliminating transgender service members would not only put her out of a job, but would have immediate repercussions on her wife and three kids.
“It would be absolutely devastating,” she told PEOPLE. “We’ve planned our life around military service. We’ve had to for 13 years, between moving across the country, to me going away for a year. Our whole family structure has been predicated on military service.”
Meanwhile, Logan said he would “love” to meet with Trump to discuss the implications of the sweeping ban.
“For the President to deny an able-bodied, fully qualified person the inherent right to raise their right hand and serve their country, potentially giving their own life for our freedoms, is doing this country an injustice,” Logan previously told PEOPLE.