As if French President Emmanuel Macron didn't have enough on his plate, a rumor that was once dismissed as a conspiracy theory dreamed up by the far-right media is picking up new steam.
The rumor: that his wife, Brigitte Macron, is actually transgender, and was actually born as a male.
Speculation over the French First Lady's birth gender has taken over the Francophone section of Twitter this week. The cacophony of criticism has gotten so loud that Mrs. Macron - who is perhaps best known to the non-French-speaking public for her quarter-century age gap with her husband (whom she once taught as a high-school English student) - is reportedly going to file a complaint, according to several French media sources citing people from her inner circle.
According to the rumor, Mrs. Macron was born a man named Jean-Michel Trogneux. This directly contradicts her official biography, which states she was given the name Brigitte Marie-Claude Trogneux and was born female.
As "proof" that Mrs. Macron was born a man, social media users cite the scarcity of photos of Brigitte Macron in her youth that have been made public, as well as her alleged tendency to "hide her neck," One independent reporter who has helped spread the story claims that she investigated Mrs. Macron's past for three years, and claims to have documents confirming that her gender at birth was that of a male.
As for the rumors, they reportedly first cropped up in late September in the outlet "Facts and Documents"’ which has a reputation as a site that specializes in "far-right conspiracy theories," according to RT.
However, it was not until last Monday that the claims began making the rounds on social media. According to Numerama news website, a total of 34K posts have been identified on Twitter, many sharing the claims under the hashtag #JeanMichelTrogneux.
There have even reportedly been multiple attempts to change her gender on her Wikipedia article (yet another reminder not to rely on information gleaned from Wikipedia).
The outlet goes on to accuse “accounts peddling conspiracy theories, far-right circles, anti-vaxxers, QAnon groups and singer Francis Lalanne” for helping elevate the rumor to the point where it was one of the most widely discussed topics on French-speaking social media.