A Los Angeles Superior Court has granted a tentative decision in Richard Simmons‘ libel lawsuit against the National Enquirer and Radar Online.
The fitness guru, 69, sued the publications in May over articles that claimed he was transitioning from male to female, allegations he vehemently denied while also declaring his support for trans rights. In a tentative ruling on Wednesday, August 30, Judge Gregory Keosian said that being misidentified as transgender isn’t inherently defamatory in the eyes of the law.
“This court finds that because courts have long held that a misidentification of certain immutable characteristics do not naturally tend to injure one’s reputation, even if there is a sizable portion of the population who hold prejudices against those characteristics, misidentification of a person as transgender is not actionable defamation absent special damages,” the judge said, via The Hollywood Reporter.
American Media Inc., the owner of the Enquirer, Radar, Us Weekly and other publications, challenged Simmons’ complaint in May with an anti-SLAPP motion, arguing, “Statements that someone is transgender, or undergoing a gender transition, do not impute the kind of inherently shameful or odious characteristic that can support a defamation claim in modern times.”
The ruling also marked a victory for trans rights as Keosian ruled that, like race, misidentifying someone as transgender is not a defamatory statement. A final ruling will be issued in the coming days.
Simmons retreated from the spotlight in early 2014 and has not been seen publicly since.
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