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Grandjean's Appeal - The Lawyer Argues for Grandjean's Classification

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 - 20:00

I usually try to get these posted in the morning before I start work, to get the best social media exposure. But last evening I worked late, so this morning I slept in (i.e., until half an hour before walking into my home office) and tomorrow I commute to work "on site," which I"ll be doing at least one day a week going forward. SO to meet my target schedule, here I am posting in the evening.

The classical references that the narrator cited in the previous segment could constitute the basic education expected of anyone aimed at the legal profession in the 18th century. But in the current installment, we really get a sense of how seriously he's taking his client's case. Because either the court assigned a lawher who just randomly happened to be familiar with up-to-the-minute literature on intersex conditions (unlikely), or he volunteered for the case, already having an interest and background knowledge in the topic (which might explain his fixation on classifying Grandjean as intersex), or he went out and did a lot of reading after taking on the case. I didn't mange to track down all of the publications he references--after spening over an hour deciphering and identifying only one particular citation. Maybe later I'll go back and work on the ones I skipped.

One of the books I picked up recently to read for the blog is a history of interest in intersex conditions in 19th century France, but I think in the publications that the lawyer is familiar with, we can see a much earlier awareness and fascination around the topic. One of these days I should do a special-focus discussion on how intersex topics intersect with the history of female same-sex relations. Some of the themes get mentioned regularly in a variety of contexts, but I've never done a specific focus around that topic. In part, it's because I feel a bit out of my depth in terms of where the flashpoints and pitfalls are, and I'd hate to treat the subject in a careless or hurtful way. Historic attitudes toward lesbianism are equally full of pitfalls and booby-traps, but as a lesbian myself, I feel a bit more confident in tackling them.

Major category: 
Full citation: 

Vermeil. 1765. Mémoire pour Anne Grandjean. Louis Cellot, Paris.

Publication summary: 

The original text, translation, and commentary on the appeal record of Anne Grandjean against a charge of "profaning the sacrament of marriage" by marrying a woman.

First Issue - The Types of Hermaphrodites

Abandonnons donc la cause pour nous attacher aux effets; & sans chercher à connoître par quelle raison un hermaphrodite existe, voyons ce qu'il est en effet.

Let us therefore abandon the cause and concentrate on the effects; and without seeking to know by what reason a hermaphrodite exists, let us see what he is in fact.

On en peut distinguer de trois sortes.

We can distinguish three kinds.

{HRJ: In this discussion, we get our clearest idea of what Grandjean’s defense counsel has in mind when using the word “hermaphrodite”. This still doesn’t tell us what Legrand might have meant when she made her accusation.}

La premiere est celle de ces productions étonnantes, qui réunissent les facultés des deux sexes avec un égal avantage, qui peuvent engendrer hors d'eux comme dans eux, qui peuvent être au gré de leur caprice tantôt femmes, tantôt hommes: tel fut, si l'on en croit les observations du Médecin Schenk, cet individu qui étoit marié à un homme, qui eut de lui plusieurs enfans, tant mâles que femelles, & qui pendant son mariage usoit de familiarités avec ses servantes & les rendoịt fécondes. Viro nupserat cui filio aliquot & filias peperit; nihilominus tamen ancillas comprimere, & in his generare solebat.

The first is that of those astonishing productions, which unite the faculties of both sexes with equal advantage, which can beget outside of them as well as within them, which can be at the whim of their caprice sometimes female, sometimes male: such was, if we are to believe the observations of the physician Schenk, that individual who was married to a man, who had from him several children, both male and female, & who during his marriage used familiarity with his maids & rendered them fertile. Viro nupserat cui filio aliquot & filias peperit; nihilominus tamen ancillas comprimere, & in his generare solebat.

{HRJ: Our narrator’s Type 1 is a form of intersex that has essentially been disproven as a possibility by modern medical studies (at least according to the Wikipedia article on intersex): a person who can produce both male and female gametes; who can bear a child and also impregnate another person. The Schenk referenced here can’t be embryologist Leopold Schenk, author of The Determination of Sex, as his dates are a century too late. Ah, but here’s a lead, based on searching on segments of the quote. Franz Ludwig von Neugebauer’s Hermaphroditismus beim Menschen (1908) has a long list of citations of case studies, and quotes “Schenk (siehe Arnaud, loc.cit. p.296): “Viro nupserat, cui filios aliquot et filias peperit, nihilominus tamen ancillas comprimere et in his generare solebat.” Arnaud appears to track to a citation for “Dissertation sur les Hermaphrodites” (Paris 1766), but this is published after Grandjean’s trial records (and in fact cites Grandjean’s case) and so can’t be our narrator’s source. In any case, if I’m reading von Neugebauer’s citations correctly, Schenk may be “J. Schenk (jun.) Observationum medicarum rararum etc. … 1609. Lib. IV. De genitalibus partibus, p. 603” which Google Books identifies as Johannes Schenck von Grafenberg and provides more of the title as “Observationum medicarum rararum, Novarum, admirabilium et monstrosarum liber…” Well, that was an exciting hour of trying to trace citations. I leave all the messiness in to show you what my process is like! In any event, the Latin from Schenk is more or less what our narrator renders. I’ll use zie/zir pronouns to render the fact that the Latin is ambiguous. “Zie had married a man to whom zie bore several sons and daughters; however nevertheless zie ?crushed? maidservants and was accustomed to ?generate? in them.” Ok, I’m failing a bit on the Latin, but you get the idea. One presumes that the individual’s pregnancies were an established fact, but regardless of what they may have been getting up to with the maidservants, I don’t know that you could prove no one else was involved with the paternity. So the usefulness of this anecdote in proving the existence of type 1 hermaphrodites is not proven.}

La seconde espece est beaucoup plus commune, en supposant que l'existance de la premiere soit bien avérée, c'est celle des hermaphrodites qui ont un sexe prédominant avec toute les facultés qui lui sont propres. D'après cette définition, il est aisé de voir qu'il y a des hermaphrodites mâles comme des hermaphrodites femelles. L'hermaprhodite mâle sera celui qui aura les organes du sexe masculin dans leur perfection, & les organes du sexe féminin imparfaits, c'est-àdire, qui pourra engendrer comme homme & non pas comme femme. L'hermaphrodite femelle sera au contraire celui qui pourra engendrer comme femme & non pas comme homme. C'est de cette espece dont parle le Législateur Romain, lorsqu'il dit: magis puto ejus sexûs estimandum qui in eo prævalet. Les Auteurs nous en fournissent plusieurs exemples que nous croyons inutile de citer ici. *

[marginal note: * V. Graaf, Merbrook, Bartolin.]

The second species is much more common, supposing that the existence of the first is well proven, it is that of the hermaphrodites who have a predominant sex with all the faculties which are proper to it. According to this definition, it is easy to see that there are both male and female hermaphrodites. The male hermaphrodite will be the one who will have the organs of the male sex in their perfection, and the organs of the female sex imperfect, that is to say, who will be able to engender as a man and not as a woman. The female hermaphrodite, on the other hand, will be the one who can beget as a woman and not as a man. It is of this species that the Roman legislator speaks when he says: magis puto ejus sexûs estimandum qui in eo prævalet. The authors give us several examples of this, which we do not think it necessary to quote here. *

[marginal note: * V. Graaf, Merbrook, Bartolin.]

{HRJ: Type 2 matches well with the general definition of intersex. A person may have anatomy that aligns more with the expectations for male or female while having some anomalous characteristics. The Latin quote is discussed earlier. The marginal citations are presumably for authors who discuss this type of condition, but I’m going to take a pass on trying to track them down at the moment. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear.

A l'égard de la troisieme espece, elle se rencontre dans ceux qui ont quelque chose de la conformation appartenante à l'un & l'autre sexe, & qui ne sont puissans ni dans l'un ni dans l'autre, comme si la nature en s'égarant, au lieu d'employer à la formation exacte d'un sexe la portion de fluide destinée à cet usage, l'avoit employée à en former deux & laissoit l'un & l'autre imparfaits par le défaut de consistance & de matiere. Telle fut cette femme Ethiopienne, qui ne pouvoit agir utilement, ni permettre ... Erat Æthiopissa mulier, hæc neque agere neque pati utiliter poterat, nam uterque sexus imperfectus ei contigerat.

With regard to the third species, it is found in those who have something of the conformation belonging to the one and the other sex, and who are not powerful in either one or the other, as if nature, in going astray, instead of employing the portion of fluid destined for this use for the exact formation of one sex, had employed it to form two and left the one and the other imperfect due to the lack of consistency and matter. Such was this Ethiopian woman, who could not act usefully, nor allow ... Erat Æthiopissa mulier, hæc neque agere neque pati utiliter poterat, nam uterque sexus imperfectus ei contigerat.

{HRJ: The narrator’s distinction between type 2 and type 3 seems to depend on whether the person is able to engage in intercourse as one or the other sex, while type 3 is someone who is not capable of performing as either. But he’s going all coy again in terms of specifics. The Latin means “There was an Ethiopian woman, who could function neither to “act” nor to “suffer” [i.e., neither to penetrate nor to be penetrated], for both sexes were imperfect in her.”}

Dans laquelle de ces trois classes rengerons-nous maintenant l'individu dont il s'agit ici? Si nous en croyons le Procès-verbal de visite des Médecins & Chirurgiens de Lyon, ce que l'Accusé a répondu aux questions du Juge & aux nôtres, & ce que sa femme entendue en déposition a déclaré de ses facultés, nous le mettrons dans la troisieme classe, en observant néanmoins que chez lui l'attrait de la concupiscence se fait sentir seulement dans les organes qui appartiennent à la masculinité, sans faire la plus légere sensation dans ceux qui appartiennent au sexe féminin.

In which of these three classes will we now find the individual we are dealing with here? If we are to believe the report of the visit of the Physicians and Surgeons of Lyon, what the Accused answered to the questions of the Judge and to ours, and what zir wife, heard in deposition, declared of zir faculties, we will put him in the third class, observing nevertheless that in him the attraction of concupiscence is felt only in the organs that belong to the male sex, without making the slightest sensation in those that belong to the female sex.

{HRJ: This is an interesting conclusion, with the narrator’s habitual hedging around specifics with regard to anatomy and sexual activity. Grandjean is to be assigned to Type 3, supposedly those intersex persons whose physiology precludes acting sexually either in the normative role for male or female. And yet the physicians concluded that Grandjean’s anatomy was female. So is the narrator rejecting anatomy entirely as the basis for classification? He then asserts that Grandjean experiences “the attraction of concupiscence” for which we read “sexual desire” only in the male organs without feeling anything in the female organs. By which we may interpret--assuming this statement is evidence-based--that Grandjean's erotic pleasure is focused on the clitoris and not on the vagina. This is something of a disingenuous statement, because medical writings before this time had noted that the clitoris was the primary seat of female sexual pleasure. It is possible that the narrator had a gap in his education around this specific topic, though that wouldn't align with his detailed familiarity with literature treating the genitals and sexual activity. It is also possible that the narrator is so invested in the argument that Grandjean has masculinized anatomy that he deliberately omits this understanding of the female sexual experience in order to bolster his case that Grandjean's erotic experiences are masculine in nature. There were other stereotypical assumptions about the differences between male and female desire, but note that we haven’t yet reached the era where the myth of female sexual indifference had taken hold.}

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