Transgender troops warned of the dangers of Donald Trump banning them from the military as they attended the MTV Video Music Awards.
The network’s bosses invited the “hero” service personnel to the ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday in a rebuke to the US president.
Four serving transgender service members and two veterans joined stars such as Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry on the red carpet at The Forum arena after getting approval from the Pentagon.
One was Captain Jennifer Peace, 32, who has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq but now faces an uncertain future as to whether she can continue putting her life on the line for the US.
She told the Press Association: “People need to care. So many people may not care about trans people serving in the military but there was a time where blacks couldn’t serve, where women couldn’t serve, where gays and lesbians couldn’t serve and there was a time when trans people couldn’t serve.
“If we start to roll that back, then our nation isn’t as safe because we need the best and brightest in our military.
“This is just such an opportunity to let people know that we only want to be discriminated against based on our performance.”
Mr Trump blamed “tremendous medical costs and disruption” as he announced his much-maligned plan on Twitter in July.
After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
....victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
But Captain Peace refuted this.
She said: “There’s nothing. I’ve served for 13 years, I’ve been a company commander, I’ve served in every war of my generation, I stand ready to deploy again if I’m asked to. Being transgender has had no impact on it.”
The invites set the tone for what was to be an awards ceremony where politics took centre stage, with the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, being widely condemned.
Extending his invite to any transgender troops, MTV president Chris McCarthy had 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.”