Right-wingers are spreading rumours that Michelle Obama is trans – again – and it all stems back to this failed Republican congressional candidate

Michelle Obama and DeAnna Lorraine

The release of Michelle Obama’s new Netflix documentary Becoming has, sadly, revived transphobic rumours about her gender.

The rumours that Michelle Obama is a transgender woman have remerged on Twitter in recent weeks, thanks in part to failed Republican congressional hopeful DeAnna Lorraine.

“Michelle Obama is releasing a documentary on Netflix called Becoming.” Lorraine tweeted on April 28.

“I wonder what she’s becoming.”

As right-wing Twitter echoed the conspiracy, Lorraine doubled down on her bigotry while commenting on the (baseless) speculation Joe Biden is considering Obama as his pick for vice president.

“I honestly wonder if Michelle Obama has the ‘balls’ to face the scrutiny that she would come under if she signed on to be Biden’s VP,” she tweeted on May 5.

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The false claim that Michelle Obama is trans is one that resurfaces every so often, usually pushed by bigots who want to shame the former first lady,  wrongly implying that being transgender is something to be ashamed of.

An often cited conspiracy theory suggests comedian Joan Rivers was aware of Obama’s purported gender identity, and was murdered as part of a cover up. Lorraine has referenced this theory on Twitter, writing: “Joan Rivers knew.”

The fact that conservatives really believe Michelle Obama is trans because of photoshopped images- pic.twitter.com/lMnV1kcf78

— Di?✨ (@strawberrymi1ks) May 1, 2020

‘Michelle Obama is a man’ video relies on transphobia, racism and ignorance.

A conspiracy theory video titled “Michelle Obama is a transgender man” is often cited by online bigots.

Aside from the incorrect terminology (it tries to suggest Obama is a trans woman, not a trans man) and blatant transphobia, the video relies on a number of racist stereotypes about Black women’s bodies, suggesting that those with builds like Obama’s are “masculine”.

A similar video was shared in January by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who used clips of Barack Obama saying the name “Michael” as alleged proof.

As many pointed out, it is likely that the former president has met and spoke with people named Michael in his life, and the clips did not show who he was referring to.

Who even is DeAnna Lorraine?

According to Lorraine’s website, she is an “avid men’s and father’s rights activist” and an “outspoken critic of modern feminism”.

She believes “the pathway to Mak[ing] American Great Again” involves restoring her idea of American values, including “relationships between men and women, and the family unit”.

Lorraine’s biggest claim to fame is losing California’s 12th Congressional District primary in March 2020. She had hoped to be nominated to run against Nancy Pelosi in the November election, but won 4,600 primary votes to Pelosi’s 190,000.

Since then she has busied herself with inane tweets supporting pastors flouting stay-at-home orders to hold church services, suggesting that to #MeToo movement “was a weapon meant to be used against Republicans”, and sharing photoshopped images of Trump as Captain America.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is thriving. This week marked the release of her Netflix film, Becoming, which follows her as she tours her memoir of the same name.

Reviewers have said the film “cements her legend status” – as though it were in any need of cementing.