Entertainment And News

Theory That Richard Simmons Disappeared To Secretly Live As A Woman Explored In New Doc

Photo: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock
Richard Simmons

A new documentary exploring Richard Simmons’ mysterious retreat from public life has unearthed the many conspiracy theories surrounding his disappearance.

“TMZ Investigates: What Really Happened to Richard Simmons,” which premiered on August 22, explores what may have led to the fitness guru’s decision to stop teaching classes at his studio in 2014.

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Simmons has not been seen in public since, a mystery that has spawned many theories including one about his gender.

Is Richard Simmons transgender?

Simmons has publicly denied being transgender and undergoing gender reassignment surgery after media outlets ran stories claiming he was living his life as a woman.

The National Enquirer claimed Richard Simmons was a woman in 2016.

A June 2016 cover of the National Enquirer, read: “Richard Simmons: He’s Now a Woman.”

On the cover, an often-eccentric Simmons is pictured in red lipstick and a fur coat.

“[It’s not] just Richard Simmons in drag,” a source claimed. “This is Richard dressed as a softly spoken woman named Fiona.”

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“He had a boob job and his breasts are like he had been taking hormones to make them grow,” the outlet’s insider reported. “He had huge mood swings, too, which we had attributed to hormone therapy.”

At the time, Simmons had been briefly hospitalized which only added to the rumors about his surgery but the TV personality was quick to hit back.

In a rare public statement via Facebook in June 2016, Simmons denied the report.

“I feel compelled to set the record straight and refute these lies,” he wrote.

“Although I am not transitioning, I have and always will be supportive of those who are going through their journey.”

Richard Simmons stated he is not transgender in a libel suit.

After The National Enquirer’s sister publication, Radar Online, ran a similar story in 2017, Simmons took a lawsuit against their parent company American Media for these “cruel and malicious” articles.

In the lawsuit, Simmons requested compensatory and punitive damages along with a retraction of the stories, an apology and an injunction.

The lawsuit claimed the reports “cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity.”

The lawsuit was later dismissed after a judge ruled that being labeled transgender is not defamatory.

Being transgender may subject a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule from some of the population, but, the judge wrote, “the court will not validate those prejudices by legally recognizing them.”

The fitness guru was ordered to pay nearly $130,000 in attorneys’ fees to the media outlets and their publisher. His appeal was later dismissed upon a request from both parties. 

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Alice Kelly is YourTango’s Deputy News and Entertainment Editor. Based in Brooklyn, New York, her work covers all things social justice, pop culture, and human interest. Keep up with her Twitter for more.

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