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Joan Rivers died in 2014 from complications from a medical procedure.
Rivers’ claim about former First Lady Michelle Obama was wrong — she is not transgender.
We’re again debunking an old claim about the Obamas — this time, linked to another false claim about the late comedian Joan Rivers.
In footage from 2014, Rivers claimed that former President Barack Obama is gay and former first lady Michelle Obama is transgender. An Instagram user sharing that video said Rivers was killed for revealing "the truth."
The user posted the video Jan. 11, which shows Rivers being interviewed on the street. In the clip, Rivers was asked about having officiated a gay wedding the day before.
The off-camera person interviewing Rivers then asked, "Do you think that the United States will see the first gay president or the first woman president?"
Rivers answered, "Well we already have it with Obama, so let’s just calm down. You know Michelle is a t—-," using a slur that’s a reference to transgender people.
When the interviewer asked for clarification, Rivers said, "A transgender. We all know. It’s OK."
A text overlay on the video reads, "It’s a shame they bumped off Joan Rivers because she revealed the TRUTH!" And the post caption says, "Telling the truth in #HollyWEIRD can be dangerous. It can even get you killed. Case in point: the magnificent #JoanRivers."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook.)
Rivers, who died in September 2014, was not murdered, and the Obamas are not gay or transgender.
Rivers died from complications after a medical procedure that was meant to evaluate her vocal cords. Her daughter, Melissa sued the doctors and clinic where the surgery took place for medical malpractice, saying doctors ignored warning signals that Rivers’ surgery had gone wrong. The family reached a settlement with the clinic in May 2016.
As for the Obamas, this is not the first time this claim has circulated and been debunked. We previously rated two claims that Michelle Obama is a man Pants on Fire! Photos and accounts from her memoir show that she is a cisgender woman.
We rate the claim that Rivers was killed for revealing that Barack Obama is gay and Michelle Obama is transgender Pants on Fire!
Instagram post, Jan. 11, 2023
The Hollywood Reporter, Joan Rivers Calls President Obama Gay, Says First Lady Is ‘Tranny’ (Video), July 3, 2014
CNN, Joan Rivers died from ‘therapeutic complications,’ medical examiner says, Oct. 16, 2014
TMZ, Joan Rivers -- Melissa Sues Clinic Over Mom's Death, Jan. 26, 2015
The New York Times, Settlement Reached in Joan Rivers Malpractice Case, May 12, 2016
PolitiFact, No, Michelle Obama is not a transgender woman, Oct. 31, 2020
PolitiFact, Image of Michelle Obama is absolutely altered, May 28, 2021
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