The judge presiding over Richard Simmons’ current defamation lawsuit against the National Enquirer and Radar Online seems to be leaning in favor of the gossip sites.
In May, Simmons sued the publications after they wrote a series of articles that alleged he was transitioning from a man to a woman. Simmons said that he has no ill-will towards the transgender community but said the articles were false and defamatory. His lawyer argued that he has the right to “not be portrayed as someone he is not.” The judge is reportedly tentatively ruling that alleging someone is transgender is not defamatory.
No official ruling has been made at this time but the court has made it clear that it plans to treat the issue of someone being called transgender as they would treat claims of race, illness or other “immutable characteristics,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Variety reports that Simmons’ lawyers are trying to make the court recognize the prejudices behind the articles.
“The object of the National Enquirer was to do everything they could to humiliate this person,” said attorney Neville Johnson. “They made it up entirely out of whole cloth. I submit that when you make something up intentionally… and put it on the cover, there’s an inference you can make that somebody’s reputation is going to be harmed.”