Brigitte Macron, the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, is heading to court to fight false claims made by  right-wing publications, QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers  that she is a transgender woman. 

According to the conspiracy theorists, Brigitte, 68, was born male and her name was Jean Michel Trogneux. Trogneux is Macron’s maiden name. 

“She has decided to initiate proceedings, it is in progress,” Macron’s  lawyer Jean Ennochi told the AFP news agency. 

The hashtag #JeanMichelTrogneux has been circulating on Twitter in  France since November, and is often accompanied by transphobic  and right-wing commentary. The use of the hashtag has exploded  since the beginning of December, with over 68,300 retweets and  174,000 likes of tweets discussing Macron’s gender identity. 

The massive spike in the use of the hashtag is attributed to QAnon  supporters, COVID deniers, anti-vaxxers and the extreme right wing in France. 

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Attacking powerful women by suggesting that are transgender is  becoming a popular tool by right-wing conspiracy theorists to  discredit the women and their achievements. Much of the commentary is transphobic. Michelle Obama in  2016, Jacinda Ardern in 2018 and current US Vice President Kamala Harris have all been targets of similar allegations.

Social Media Fuels False Claims

Brigitte Macron and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The rumour first appeared in March, in a story posted to the  Facebook account of journalist Natacha Rey, which is filled with right wing conspiracy theories and rallies against the “health dictatorship.” 

The story gained traction after the far right magazine Faits ets Documents (Facts and Documents), published Rey’s “investigation”  into the “Brigitte Macron mystery,” in October, (issue 497). The  magazine was founded in 1996 by Emmanuel Ratier, who was an  extreme right-wing French political activist. The magazine often  publishes anti-Semitic stories and conspiracy theories. 

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Rey claimed she spent three years delving into the mystery of  Macron’s gender and spoke with “many experts.” Rey also claims that  Brigitte Macron’s three grown children from her first marriage are actually the product of a previous relationship with a cisgender  woman. 

The rumour has been promoted through claims that Macron often  hides her neck and that few pictures of a youthful Macron exist in the public realm. Macron’s manner of walking, and sitting has also been  used as a means to substantiate the rumour. 

Against Vaccine Mandates

 

Brigitte Macron and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Rey spoke at length about the story in a December 10 interview with  Amandine Roy, a YouTube medium, who has more than 17,000  subscribers. The interview with Roy lasted for more than four hours and the video amassed 470,000 views but has since been taken down. 

During the interview Rey maintained she had put the evidence of  Macron’s gender at birth “in a sealed envelope, which was deposited  with a lawyer whose name is known,” and said she would make the  documents public “on the day when the vaccination obligation is  decided.” 

Tristan Mendès-France, a specialist in conspiracy theories, told  Marianne the rumours were being spread by “anti-Macron  opportunists, ready to do anything to prove his corruption and attack  the image of his wife.” 

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The French presidential election will be held in April 2022 and while  Macron has not confirmed he will run again, it is widely expected he  will. There are concerns that the French election will be marred by  nasty campaign tactics and the rumour against Macron is just the tip  of the iceberg. 

The Macron’s relationships long been the target of gossip, based  largely on the 25 year age difference between the couple.  

French President Has Faced Rumours He Is Gay

French President Emmanuel Macron.

The couple met when he was 15 and she was a 40 year old drama teacher. Emmanuel Macron has also been the target of ongoing  allegations that he is, in fact, gay. 

In 2017 Macron responded to the rumours saying, “I am who I am, I  have never had anything to hide. I hear people saying that I have a  secret life or something. It’s not nice for Brigitte and because I share  all my days and nights with her, she asks me how do I manage it.” 

“If over dinners in the city, if on forwarded emails, you’re told that I  have a double life with Mathieu Gallet or anyone else – then it’s my  hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can’t be me.”

In a television documentary, Macron further responded to the claims  saying, that the rumour presented “two odious things: on one side misogyny because they say it’s not possible to be with a woman who  is 24 years older. That’s how I’ve always lived because I’ve been with  my wife for 20 years. And on the other side, it’s homophobic.” 

 

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