A Los Angeles Superior Court judge hinted that he would be dismissing Richard Simmons’ defamation suit against the National Enquirer and Radar Online on Wednesday, saying that being misidentified as transgender is not defamation.
Simmons sued the outlets in May for writing that he was in the process of transitioning, saying that although he fully supports the trans community, the false stories were harmful to his reputation.
Judge Gregory Keosian dismissed the claims in a tentative ruling on Wednesday, arguing that being misidentified as transgender can’t be considered defamation because it doesn’t inherently expose someone to “hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy.”
“While, as a practical matter, the characteristic may be held in contempt by a portion of the population, the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them,” Keosian said.
Attorneys for Simmons argued that the court must take into consideration that transphobia is running rampant in America, citing Trump’s ban on trans service members as an example of the harsh reality that trans people face.
“There are giant segments of society in this country who endorse the kind of prejudice and hatred and shunning of transgender persons in a way that is dramatically different than the way we treat race in this country,” attorney Rodney Smolla pointed out.
Keosian explained that misidentifying someone’s race is not considered defamatory and says that precedent should apply to misidentifying someone as trans as well.
The judge is set to issue the final ruling in the next few days, but TMZ says that Simmons plans to appeal the decision if it officially does not go in his favor.