Brigitte Macron hits back at transphobic conspiracy theory by filing defamation lawsuit

By Abby Amoakuh

Updated Jun 25, 2024 at 09:14 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

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Remember when conservative talk show host Piers Morgan bet far-right troll Candace Owens $100,000 to a charity of her choice that Brigitte Macron was born a woman? This unusual debate highlighted the intensity of the disinformation campaign that has been targeting France’s First Lady for years now. All of this media turmoil has been based on the bizarre conspiracy theory that Brigitte is a transgender woman.

@piersmorganuncensored

#PiersMorgan has bet #CandaceOwens $100,000 to a charity of her choice that #BrigitteMacron was born a woman. #PiersMorganUncensored #foryou #fyp

♬ original sound - piersmorganuncensored - piersmorganuncensored

President Emmanuel Macron has in recent weeks lashed out at all of these rumours, calling them “false and fabricated.” For context, the claim first exploded in France weeks before the 2022 presidential election, when the public accused the president’s wife of being born as a man called Jean-Michel Trogneux, her maiden surname. The name even went viral as a hashtag on X, formerly Twitter.

The alleged original source of the conspiracy is a YouTube video from 2021, in which two women—self-proclaimed spiritual medium Amandine Roy and journalist Natacha Rey—discussed these claims for four hours. These rumours were then spread online by conspiracy theorists and the far right, according to France24.

In a now-deleted podcast episode titled Is France’s First Lady a man? Owens claimed that Brigitte Macron and her brother, Jean-Michel Trogneux, are the same person. The conservative commentator also reportedly said that Trogneux “lived as a man for 30 years, fathered five children, and then transitioned at the age of 30 to become Brigitte.”

“Any journalist or publication that is trying to dismiss this plausibility is immediately identifiable as establishment. I have never seen anything like this in my life. The implications here are terrifying,” Owens later added on on X.

Needless to say, these rumours are just harmful and transphobic political smears. For this reason, Brigitte decided to hit back at the two women who originally launched the conspiracy, filing a lawsuit for defamation that got its first court hearing on Wednesday 19 June 2024.

Of course, Brigitte is not the only female public figure to be attacked in this way. Macron is among a group of influential women, including former US First Lady Michelle Obama and New Zealand ex-premier Jacinda Ardern, who have fallen victim to a growing trend of disinformation about their gender or sexuality to mock or humiliate them.

Roy and Rey are still confident about their claims surrounding Brigitte Macron. Indeed, Roy told the court that the journalist Rey, was “desperate to share her work” about this “state lie” and “scam” that she claimed to have uncovered. Roy herself had merely “acquiesced to [that] request.”

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