Emmanuel Macron’s wife said she will sue over a far-right transgender conspiracy theory

Brigitte Macron taking legal action over transgender conspiracy theory

Brigitte Macron, the wife of the French president, has launched legal action over a conspiracy theory that claims she was born male.

The virulent fake news dates back to March but has spread over social media over the past two months. It claims Brigitte Macron, who has three children from a first marriage, was born Jean-Michel Trogneux.

Her lawyer, Jean Ennochi, confirmed to AFP earlier this week that “she has decided to initiate proceedings, it is underway.”

French First Lady Brigitte Macron plans to take legal action over the online conspiracy theory that she is a transgender woman and was born a man.

The conspiracy falsely claims she was born Jean-Michael Trogneux. 

Several tweets speculated on a still image of what appears to show Macron, whose maiden name is Trogneux, standing with her legs apart during a visit to the White House. However, a video tweeted by French President Emmanuel Macron shows that the photo was taken while she was shifting her standing position.

Brigitte Macron intends to initiate legal proceedings and file a complaint against the instigators of the rumours; her staff told French paper, Le Figaro.

The BBC reported that the rumours against Brigitte Macron, a 68-year-old ex-schoolteacher with three children and seven grandchildren from a former marriage, were primarily pushed by far-right groups, the anti-vaxx movement, and QAnon conspiracy theorists.

The fake news appears to have been first published and propagated by “Natasha Rey” on Facebook. The page of this self-described “journalist” is full of conspiracy theories and diatribes against the “health dictatorship”.

She backed her reporting on family photos and supposed civil status documents.

The conspiracy theory really gained traction in mid-October following the publication of an article on the supposed “Brigitte Macron mystery” in “Faits et documents”, a magazine founded in 1996 by far-right figure, Emmanuel Ratier, who had, at the time of his death in 2015, received a hearty eulogy from Jean-Marie Le Pen.

“Natasha Rey” is once again part of the investigation.

The hashtag #JeanMichelTrogneux appeared for the first time on Twitter on November 1 — nearly two weeks after the article’s publication — before being relayed by a relatively confidential account (531 subscribers), “Le Journal de la Macronie”, resolutely opposed to the head of state, according to the data analysis tool InVid We Verify developed for AFP.

For nearly a month, the hashtag remained largely under the radar before experiencing a spectacular surge in popularity from early December.

According to InVid’s latest count, the hashtag has so far generated 68,300 retweets and over 174,000 likes. Some of the posts relaying the fake news often come with messages hostile to the head of state, but some also come from people who, conversely, denounce its dissemination and popularisation.

This is not the first time that the Macron couple has been targeted by rumours mixing gender and sexual orientation. During the 2017 presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron had to deny allegations that he is gay.

August 2019 The French President Emmanuel Macron has lashed out at Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro for endorsing “rude” remarks about his wife.

Brigitte Macron
Emmanuel Macron said the comments about his wife Brigitte were “extraordinarily rude” Cropped from From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

A supporter of the Brazilian president mocked Mr Macron’s wife, Brigitte, 68, in a Facebook post.

The post contained a photo contrasting the French first lady’s appearance with that of Mr Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, 37.

“Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?” it reads.

In response to the comment, Mr Bolsonaro wrote (in Portuguese): “Do not humiliate (him)… man, ha ha.”

Asked about Mr Bolsonaro’s remarks, Mr Macron said it was “extraordinarily rude” and “sad”.

Jair Bolsonaro with his wife Michelle in a presidential convoy
Jair Bolsonaro with his wife Michelle in a presidential convoy

“He said very disrespectful things about my wife. I have great respect for the Brazilian people and can only hope they soon have a president who is up to the job,” Mr Macron said at a news conference at the G7 summit in Biarritz

Personally, I don’t like Emmanuel Macron centrist politics or his love for the EU, however, if you want to attack the guy there is a catalogue of issues you could bring him to task over but attacking him via his wife is just very cheap.

Trolls attacking female political figures

This is not a new phenomenon. Several female politicians have already been subjected to them, such as former US First Lady Michelle Obama, current US Vice President Kamala Harris and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also accused in 2018 of hiding her identity as a transgender woman and faking a pregnancy.

According to BusinessInsider, Macron another prominent woman in global politics as been targeted by false conspiracy theories surrounding her sex — former First Lady Michelle Obama was the subject of similar baseless rumours in 2016.

Abuse of female politicians is disproportinal and some more so than other

Diane Abbott alone received almost half of all the abusive tweets sent to female MPs in the run-up to the general election of 2017, research by Amnesty International has revealed.

The shadow home secretary, who temporarily stood aside during the election campaign for health reasons, came under a relentless campaign of racist and sexist abuse in the weeks before the 8 June poll. The abuse directed at her amounted to 10 times as much as was received by any other female MP, according to the Amnesty study.

Amnesty researchers found Abbott received 45% of all abusive tweets sent to female MPs in the six weeks before election day. In the previous six months, she received just under a third of all abuse sent to the same group.

Even within her own party Diane Abbott was vigorously attacked and mocked. Abbott was the brunt of alleged racist and misogynistic attacks from other Labour staffers the suppressed #Labourleaks documents showed.

The 860-page document unearthed a plethora of party horrors: allegations of misuse of funds, the continued undermining of the 2017 electoral campaign and the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to investigate anti-Semitism in the party, as well as vicious criticism of leading Labour figures by staff members in private messages.

The report was the result of an internal investigation into the work of Labour’s governance and legal unit in relation to antisemitism. Created by party staff, it pulls together an estimated 10,000 emails, thousands of messages exchanged on work accounts, and the contents of two WhatsApp group chats apparently created by senior management in Labour headquarters.

The lengthy document revealed that Labour officials used a string of insults, racism, and sexism in their private WhatsApp groups to describe senior Black MPs and officials including Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler.

The messages about Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler are a visceral reminder of the discrimination not only women but especially black women face in the workplace

For some reason Trolls, both male and female seem to think Female MPs and politicians are fair game, maybe a few fines and jail will help them spend a little time in reflection.

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