Judge Signals He Will Reject Simmons' Transgender Lawsuit

He says calling someone transgender isn't defamatory
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2017 4:09 AM CDT
Judge: Calling Simmons Trangender Isn't Defamation
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2013 file photo, Richard Simmons arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Simmons sued the National Enquirer, its online outlet and its parent company for libel on Monday, May 8, 2017, over stories that claimed he is living as a transgender...   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

It's a big loss for Richard Simmons—but a win for transgender rights. In a tentative ruling issued Wednesday, LA Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian signaled that he plans to reject Simmons' defamation lawsuit against the National Enquirer and Radar Online, which published stories claiming the star had undergone a "shocking sex surgery"—because it isn't defamation to call somebody transgender. Keosian wrote that wrongly saying somebody is transgender does not inherently expose them to "hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy," Variety reports. Some might have contempt for transgender people, but "the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them," he wrote.

Keosian who is expected to issue a final ruling in the coming days, wrote that being transgender is an "immutable characteristic" like race, medical conditions, or sexuality. In previous cases, he wrote, courts have found that "misidentification of certain immutable characteristics do not naturally tend to injure one’s reputation." Simmons' attorneys argued that his dignity had been diminished by false stories claiming he was living as a woman called Fiona. "When you make something up intentionally and put it on the cover there’s an inference you can certainly make that somebody’s reputation is going to be harmed," said attorney Neville Johnson, per the Hollywood Reporter. (More Richard Simmons stories.)

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