French president Emmanuel Macron slammed for spreading ‘transphobic fake news’ ahead of election

French president Emmanuel Macron is facing a backlash for his recent comments about self-ID for trans people.

Facing waning popularity, the Renaissance Party leader described the rival left-wing alliance Nouveau Front Populaire (NFP) as “completely crazy” for pledging to implement self-ID.

The NFP pledged to “authorise a [cost] free change of civil status before a registrar,” meaning transgender people in France would be able to change gender markers on their legal documents with few restrictions.

In a conversation with residents after a ceremony at the Croix du Souvenir monument to commemorate General de Gaulle’s World War II “Appel du 18 juin“, Macron called the pledge “gruesome” and claimed that under the NFP’s leadership, anyone could go “to the town hall to change [their] sex”.

Currently, those who wish to apply to change their gender markers in France must do so before a judge. While there is no legal obligation to have received gender-affirming surgery, applicants must prove that their current gender marker “does not correspond to that of [their] social life”.

Voters across France seemed to react negatively to Emmanuel Macron’s comments, with some calling them “shameful” and accusing the president of being “unaware of the suffering involved for those concerned”.

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One person wrote on X: “Mister President, transphobia is not an opinion but a crime. Stop chasing the RN.”

“RN” refers to the Rassemblement National (National Rally), a far-right political party led by Jordan Bardella.

The Rassemblement National, formerly Front National, once a fringe group, has long been dogged by allegations of homophobia, racism and antisemitism. Its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has described being gay as a biological anomaly as well as a “personal choice” and said “paedophilia” has its “roots … in the admiration of homosexuality”.

Emmanuel Macron unexpectedly called snap parliamentary elections on Sunday (9 June) after his centrist alliance was trounced by the RN in the EU elections.

According to Politico, Progressistes LGBT+ (a group of queer voters who support Macron) “deeply regrets the comments aimed at stigmatising transgender people.”

The group then pointed to comments Macron made in 2022 when he said trans people “must be respected” and that their lives must not be made more complex through bureaucracy.

Similarly, former European affairs secretary Clément Beaune wrote on Twitter/X: “For trans people, for LGBT people, for everyone … we must reject stigma in political discourse and promote equal rights.”

NFP party members also collectively condemned Macron, with some saying it’s indicative of the president’s desperation following his decision to call a snap election.

Olivier Faure, the Socialist Party’s first secretary, said: “When I see [Macron] adding up fake news and being transphobic, I think the president is embracing the most populist statements which he called out for years.”

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