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.
Social Media Fuels False Claims
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.
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
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.”
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
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.”