Herculine Barbin


Until the time that Herculine Barbin began to develop abdominal pains she had led an uneventful life of schoolgirl lesbian love affairs. After growing up in a French convent (admitted on a scholarship) she was in training to become a teacher herself. When she complained to a doctor and was given an examination, he recommended that she leave the women-only academy because she had an internal penis and pair of testicles, making her intersex. Soon after she confessed to the rest of the convent and her case entered the legal system, where she was deemed male. He was forced out of his job and away from his lover to live in poverty in Paris, where he wrote the memoirs that would later be translated into English and given an introduction by gender theories Michel Foucault, and committed suicide soon after. His book would later inspire Jeffrey Eugenides to write the novel Middlesex.

How Barbin identified herself/himself is unclear, though when writing his memoirs he used female pronouns for the time before his legal redesignation and male pronouns for after; due to the uncertainty, she/he is listed as intersex, transgender, and lesbian.


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