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False story about former first lady’s mother originated as satire

July 22, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Michelle Obama’s mother stated in her will that possessions should go to her son, Michael Robinson Obama, proof the former first lady is biologically male.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The claim, part of a conspiracy theory that includes several falsehoods, originated as satire.

THE FACTS: A years-old fake story about Michelle Obama’s mother and her will previously appeared on a blog with the disclaimer “Everything on this website is fiction.”

The story, shared as real in a screenshot on Instagram this week, appeared on in 2019. The website has a disclaimer that it is part of a network of satirical websites and consists of “pure fantasy.”

The story misidentifies Obama’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson, as “Mary McGillicuddy Robinson,” and falsely claims she died. It goes on to falsely claim that Robinson’s will identifies Obama as “Michael Robinson Obama,” suggesting she is biologically male. Neither claim is supported by evidence.

The story contains several other falsehoods, including the claim that Illinois residents cannot legally change their gender in state records. The Illinois Department of Public Health explains that an Illinois resident may submit forms to request to have the gender on their birth certificate changed.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.