The name Jean-Michel Trogneux has been floating around in social media circles for months, and France's first lady isn't happy about it. That's because conspiracy theorists are claiming that's Brigitte Macron's birth name, and that she was born male, prompting the 68-year-old wife of Emmanuel Macron to ready a lawsuit to push back on the false claims, reports the BBC. "She has decided to initiate proceedings, it is in progress," her attorney, Jean Ennochi, tells AFP, adding that the suit will accuse those who've been promoting the theory of libel, per the London Times.
Anti-vax and far-right accounts, as well as those tied to the QAnon conspiracy movement, have been circulating the false transgender theory online since September. That's when it was first floated in an article in a far-right journal that claimed it had been investigating Brigitte Macron for three years, per the Independent. The woman who purported to have conducted said probe, Natacha Rey, then gave the story even more fuel by talking about it in a YouTube broadcast earlier this month. Days after that, the #JeanMichelTrogneux hashtag began proliferating online.
Although Trogneux is indeed Macron's maiden name, that's about the only thing that's apparently accurate about the theory, and Macron is now planning to fight back. The Times notes that the French first lady has also found herself in the middle of conspiracy theories that claim she's not the mother of the three adult children she brought with her from her first marriage. Meanwhile, Le Monde backs Macron up, calling the claims against her "outlandish," with a jab against the US in the process: The paper blames the rampant belief in such conspiracy theories on an "Americanization" of France's political landscape. (Read more Brigitte Macron stories.)