How Russian Media reported on Trump’s transgender military ban

Graphic by Samantha Lee (Business

In a country where a TV station once said
it’d buy its gay citizens
 “a one-way ticket overseas,”
Russian media followed Trump’s tweets about banning
transgender people from serving in the US military closely.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump
that transgender individuals would not be permitted
to serve in the US military “in any capacity” due to the
“tremendous medical costs and disruption” their service would
allegedly cause.

If implemented, the move would be a direct reversal of former
President Barack Obama’s 2016 decision to allow people of all
genders to serve openly.

While Russian state-owned media’s strategy has been to
consistently ignore coverage of LGBT rights in its own country
(most Kremlin-backed papers reiterated
the government’s denial of uncovered “death camps” for gay men in
Chechnya) it it has not shied away from covering Trump’s tweets
this week.

“Trump announced that he made such a decision after consulting
generals and other military experts,” wrote
state-owned paper RIA Novosti. As
only 16%
of Russians feel that LGBT people should be accepted
by society, many state-owned and independent newspapers published
lengthy think-pieces on why Trump’s decision was correct. cited head of Russia’s Association of Human Rights
Lawyers Maria Bast to say that officers in the military had a
right to be wary of allowing transgender people to serve in the

“Even if the boss of a military lawyer does not care about the
status of his gender, a different soldier may need to perform
other physical tasks [not corresponding to one’s gender]”
paper wrote

Even before Trump tweeted about the ban, Kremlin-owned
Russia Times
published an article
saying that 48% of Americans supported
excluding gay people from the military and cited various American
people who opposed transgender rights.

russia gay
demonstrator holds up a picture depicting Russian President
Vladimir Putin with make-up, during a protest by the gay

Cris Toala

Daily tabloid paper Moskovskij Komsomolets
even went so far
as interviewing “sexual pathologist” Nikolay
Poderin to explain why transgender people will cost the US
military “a pretty penny.”

“For many transgender people, [sex reassignment surgery] is
the primary goal in life while everything else, including
military service, is a secondary plan,” Poderin told MK.

“What is going on in the soulless USA?” wrote journalist
Anastasia Semenovich sarcastically in a news
for website “[Transgender people] could never serve and now they simply can’t again.”

Only Dozhd, one of the most progressive independent news channels
in Russia, has repeatedly taken a stance in support of
transgender people — whether by covering Trump’s
announcement seriously
or publishing
a video of a transgender Chechen man
who, after fleeing the
USA, asked President Vladimir Putin how he could “sleep at

That said, Russian media overwhelmingly used the ban to show how
the US was making the right move after a year of “craziness” —
such as when wrote that “this type of problem”
should not be too pressing in Russia, where transgender
people “have a right to exist” but need to leave service.

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