News

No, France's First Lady Brigitte Macron Isn't a Trans Woman

This rumor, which started before the 2022 French presidential election, has been given new life in the United States.

Published March 18, 2024

 (Ludovic MARIN / AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via Ludovic MARIN / AFP via Getty Images

For several years, a rumor has circulated in France that the country's first lady, Brigitte Macron, was born a man. 

The rumor began in April 2021, a year before the 2022 French presidential election in which incumbent President Emmanuel Macron would run for a second term. They first appeared in a French far-right publication named Faits & Documents (Facts & Documents), which purports to be a "confidential" newsletter (it requires a subscription and its sole distribution format is paper). Known for its antisemitism and its conspiracy theories, its writer is a man named Xavier Poussard.

That month, the publication hired Natacha Rey as a contributing writer for a story that claimed Brigitte Macron was born a man named Jean-Michel Trogneux. The same story alleged that before her transition, Brigitte Macron had her three children with a woman named Catherine Auzière. According to the writers, Macron's former husband, André-Louis Auzière, had never existed.

Faits & Documents would go on to elaborate on this story in six other issues of the newsletter published into fall 2021, months before the election. 

Importantly, the allegations built on, and revived, a rumor that started in 2016, during Emmanuel Macron's first presidential campaign, claiming that he was gay. None of these rumors holds up under close scrutiny.

The story that Brigitte Macron is trans, however, would not go viral until Dec. 10, 2021. On that day, Natacha Rey was invited to do a live interview by YouTube personality and self-proclaimed psychic Amandine Roy, whose real name is Delphine Jégousse. In that four-hour live video, Rey and Jégousse discussed the rumor and its details. While the conversation garnered more than 450,000 views, it was ultimately taken down, and Emmanuel Macron was reelected against his main contender, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The Rumor Arrives in the U.S.

On March 11, 2024, conservative political commentator Candace Owens brought the allegations to a new audience in the United States. Owens repeated the rumors in great detail on her podcast, citing Pressibus — a French site that previously peddled unfounded hypotheses about the COVID-19 pandemic — as a source. She shared a link to her podcast on X (former Twitter); the post was seen 7.4 million times, received 36,400 likes, and amplified more than 10,000 times as of this writing.


(screen capture)

Brigitte Macron's Actual Family Tree

"At a given point, I realized that they were subverting my genealogy," Brigitte Macron declared to a French radio station in January 2022. "They changed my family tree. It was fine for three quarters of my family, but then we get to my brother and I am my brother. … They are messing with my parents' genealogy, it's impossible."

Contradicting the rumors, Brigitte Macron, née Trogneux, and Jean-Michel Trogneux are siblings. They are the two youngest of six siblings. The family includes sisters Annie, Maryvonne (who died in 1960) and Monique, and brother Jean-Claude (who died in 2018). Jean-Michel was still alive at the time of this writing. 

Macron's ex-husband was named Louis-André Auzière. The two divorced in 2006 after 30 years of marriage, and he died on Dec. 24, 2019, at 68. Together they had three children: Tiphaine, Sébastien and Laurence.

Catherine Auzière, the supposed mother of Brigitte Macron's children, also exists and lives in Normandy. Contrary to the allegations, she never had children. She is married to Jean-Louis Auzière, the uncle of Brigitte Macron's late ex-husband

The way Brigitte Macron and her now-husband, Emmanuel Macron, met was widely reported, including by Snopes. It happened in 1993, when she was a drama teacher and he was her 16-year-old high-school-junior student. The two became very close and he swore at 17 years old that he would marry her, which he did in 2007. 

Lawsuits

Agence France-Presse reported in early 2022 that Macron, her brother and her three children sued Rey and Jégousse for invasion of privacy and violation of personality rights, which protect a person's right to control the use of their identity, voice, likeness, name and other identifiers. This lawsuit was dismissed in 2023 on the grounds that the complaint should have been for public defamation, according to AFP.

In parallel, Brigitte Macron and her brother also pressed charges for public defamation, AFP said. This criminal procedure was ongoing as of this writing.

Another criminal procedure in Normandy, which was was launched after Catherine Auzière pressed charges, resulted in the conviction of Rey and Jégousse, who were sentenced to a fine of 2,000 euros each. The judge also ruled that they should cover the legal expenses of the Auzière couple, up to 3,000 euros for Catherine Auzière and 2,000 euros for her husband.

President Macron Fights Back

On March 8, 2024, Emmanuel Macron denied the rumor for the first time. His exchange with a journalist was caught on camera:

MACRON: There are small, daily gestures, upsets and humiliations that are unbearable and that continue to exist in the behavior of some people. There are fake information and made-up scenarios that people end up believing, and that upset you including in your private life.

JOURNALIST: You are thinking of people who say that your wife is a man.

MACRON: Yes, that's it. Truly, there are nutcases.

Other Baseless Allegations of Women Being Trans

Brigitte Macron is not the first high-profile woman to be targeted by rumors of being born a man. We've previously reported on similar claims regarding former U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky.

These rumors are often rooted in misogyny, transphobia and homophobia. In the case of women who are married to politicians, the allegations often start during electoral campaigns in attempts to discredit their spouses in the eyes of the voters. For example, the story about Obama being a trans woman first appeared in 2008, when her husband, Barack Obama, became the Democratic presidential candidate.

The timing of the importation of this story to the U.S. could indicate an attempt to disparage U.S. President Joe Biden as he runs for a second term. Biden and Macron, despite initial difficulties and disagreements, have been partners on key issues that affect the world, including the fact that Europe and the U.S. have an interest in standing with Ukraine against Russia's attack. 

Sources

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'Brigitte Macron et Jean-Michel Trogneux, itinéraire d'une infox délirante'. Le Monde.fr, 31 Mar. 2022. Le Monde, https://www.lemonde.fr/politique/article/2022/03/31/la-premiere-dame-et-jean-michel-trogneux-itineraire-d-une-infox-infamante_6119987_823448.html.

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Anna Rascouët-Paz is based in Brooklyn, fluent in numerous languages and specializes in science and economic topics.