Judge Rules With BET: Asking Trans Host To Change Is Protected By First Amendment

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 2.25.45 PMNoted androgynous TV personality B. Scott (who came out as transgender amid this controversy) has reportedly lost the $2.5 million lawsuit he brought against BET last year, in which he claimed to have been discriminated against based on his gender expression.

Yesterday, Los Angeles Superior Court judge Yvette Palazuelos granted an anti-SLAPP motion that ruled it was BET’s First Amendment right to maintain creative control over wardrobe decisions made to convey a specific image.

The suit was filed against BET and its parent company Viacom after producers asked B. Scott to change into something more “tempered” to host the BET Awards pre-show special. The host reportedly arrived to the gig in a “sheer tunic, palazzo pants and stilettos” and later changed into a pants and a blazer, as directed by a producer.

In the suit, Scott claims he was “literally yanked backstage and told that and told that he ‘wasn’t acceptable.’” According to the complaint, “B. Scott was told to mute the makeup, pull back his hair and was forced to remove his clothing and take off his heels; thereby completely changing his gender identity and expression. They forced him to change into solely men’s clothing, different from the androgynous style he’s used to, which he was uncomfortable with.”

Scott alleged that the actions were discriminatory based on a series of internal emails between BET employees that demanded he look more “tempered.” Judge Palazuelos noted that “the argument is stronger with respect to the instant action, as Defendants were directing decisions about Plaintiff’s on-air appearance after already hiring Plaintiff.”

The Hollywood Reporter likens judge Palazuelos’ decision to a similar decision in favor of The Bachelor allegedly racially discriminating during the casting process. “The same logic applies,” Palazuelos wrote, “as Defendants allegedly made decisions about the creative vision of the television program. If casting decisions are protected speech, then logic dictates that decisions about wardrobe, style, and whether to appear with or without a co-host, also fall within the protection of the First Amendment as these decisions impact ‘the end product marketed to the public.”

B. Scott issued a statement this morning confirming that he will appeal the decision and “does not feel defeated”:

It disheartens me that the message sent today wasn’t a message of acceptance, but rather it’s acceptable to discriminate against transgender individuals on the basis of their gender identity and expression  – and that such discriminatory acts are protected under the first amendment.

Although I’m saddened by what today’s verdict means for myself and other members of the LGBTQ community, the struggle is not over. I will pursue progress and human rights for our community through the Appellate Court where I hope that my unique set of circumstances and BET/Viacom’s treatment of me will collectively yield active legislation to prevent anyone else from having to suffer as I have – without networks being able to disguise their unlawful discriminatory practices with vague, umbrella terms like ‘creative privilege’.

I’m committed to change, progress, human rights and equality for all, and by no means do I feel defeated.

Scott’s attorney Waukeen McCoy added “I am optimistic that we will win transgender rights on appeal as the law in this area is evolving.”

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  • ingyaom

    Both looks look fine to me, judging from the pictures, so I don’t see what the big deal was.

  • Thedrdonna

    Haha I’m pretty sure McCoy wasn’t transcribed properly. Otherwise, aphasia, maybe? Not a quality I’d want in a lawyer, at any rate.

  • Dwayne420

    BET’s show…they are in the right. Maybe B. Scott needs to learn how to write and negotiate a contract to protect her choice of fashion/look. The blazer outfit change was a class step up and more appropriate.

  • TinoTurner

    Looks like a freak in both pictures. This person should be counting his lucky stars he has a job on tv an don’t bite the hand that feeds him.

  • Black Pegasus

    The blazer jacket looked more feminine and classy than the previous look IMO. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to side with B. Scott because he said in previous youtube videos that HE was perfectly ok with being a HE. His entire persona has been about gender bending and attention grabbing.
    The claim that he’s suddenly “transgendered” after the red carpet incident is puzzling to anyone who is familiar with his earlier statements.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Black Pegasus: I’m with you there. I used to be a big fan of B.Scott but claiming to be “Transgender” after past comments on youtube to the contrary make this a very confusing situation. B.Scott has always called himself “a beautiful man”.

  • Evji108

    The suit looks a lot more feminine than that ill-fitting blue sack dress and much more professional. I think this B. Scott person just permanently ruined a perfectly good career. Perhaps he thought that a 2.5 mill settlement would ensure he never had to work again. What a loser.

  • QuintoLover

    He looks like that guy from Milli Vanilli. Honestly I don’t see what the deal with either costume choice is (although I find the BET choice of the blazer to be a step up. And it’s definitely not styled as a typical man would wear it so it doesn’t seem like they were trying to change him like that). Honestly, I’m surprised in the first place that BET would hire a gender bender in the first place. Bravo for them for at least taking a step forward.

  • Cam

    @DarkZephyr: said…

    “I used to be a big fan of B.Scott but claiming to be “Transgender” after past comments on youtube to the contrary make this a very confusing situation. B.Scott has always called himself “a beautiful man”.

    How many gay people have said that they were straight or bi before they actually admitted it?

    As for B. Scott, the problem is that normally a workplace can choose wardrobe and he only came out as Transgender after this whole thing started.

    I almost feel like BET is being surprisingly open by having a transgender personality on air.

  • Merv

    I’m not sure how he thinks he’s going to ever be offered a job again after suing his employer.

  • Cam


    If people don’t sue their employers then there is nothing keeping the employers honest.

  • gskorich

    why does it seem we all have to bow to the trans community all of a sudden everything is transphobic and insensitive. looking at the pictures the person doesn’t look androgynous, he looks female.

  • Bee Gaga

    @Black Pegasus: You do realize transgender is an umbrella term, right? Perhaps, and clearly this is the case, B. Scott has just gotten more educated with the terms. He’s never once said he was a “woman” and wants to transition to be one. He simply said he was transgender, which means any gender non-conforming person. Drag Queens, Androgynes, Gender-benders, butch lesbians, effeminate gay men (like myself), etc. are technically transgender because they transcend gender norms. So B.Scott, is a gay male and considers himself such, but he’s also transgender. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Cee

    B. Scott, if BET didn’t accept you they would not have hired you in the first place. They knew exactly who you were before they hired you. They accepted you by giving you the damn job. What they didn’t accept was your tacky outfit, which looked sloppy and unprofessional IMO. The outfit they made you change into looks better and the hair pulled back looks more put together and professional. Just my opinion. But pulling that “Acceptance” card BS is pretty low. I guess acceptance to you means that they should let you wear whatever YOU want. Sorry, that’s not how it works dude. It doesn’t work that way in a 9 – 5

  • Cee

    and it doesn’t work that way on the entertainment industry either.

  • jayj150

    @Bee Gaga: And that’s precisely the problem with transgenderism. It makes horrible, unbelievably homophobic and misogynistic assumptions about non-conforming people and arbitrarily robs them of their gender. Butch women ARE women. Femme men ARE men. Drag Queens ARE MEN. You don’t get to decide butch women are not women but ‘transgender’ simply because they don’t like pink things and rainbows or long hair. In your horribly close-minded view, if someone does not meet society’s stereotypical requirements to be a man or a woman, it has to mean they’re ‘transgender’. This guy is an effeminate man, and a very hypocritical one at that.

  • Thedrdonna

    @jayj150: That is nonsensical. “Transgender” on its own implies nothing about gender; someone who is transgender can still be a man or a woman. You’re pretending that that isn’t true to mask your blatant transphobia, in insisting that you know B. Scott’s gender identity better than he does.

    I’ve read quite a few comments of yours here and I haven’t seen a single one that can even partially justify your claims of homophobia and misogyny inherent in the very concept of transgenderism. You’re long on wind and little on substance.

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