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Tuesday, November 1, 2022 - 07:00

I don't think I was aware of the poem as a part of this record until I was processing and proofreading the text in preparation for the translation. The edition I first began working with didn't include it, and it was only when I was proofing certain unclear items against the other edition that I realized this one major difference. As a work of emotional expression and fiction, it fills in some of the gaps in our speculations about how French society of the time might have viewed and understood Grandjean. It also offers evidence on some points I speculated on, such as Legrand's motivations in outing Grandjean. At least one person--the poet--also thinks it was out of jealousy. But in general it would be a mistake to think that the poem offers factual information on the case, rather than reflecting the popular imagination.

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.

The Poem

{The following material appears in the longer edition only.}






Nec duo sunt, sed forma duplex; nec femina dici,

Nec puer ut possit, nec utrumque & utrumque videtur.

Ovid. Metam.







Nec duo sunt, sed forma duplex; nec femina dici,

Nec puer ut possit, nec utrumque & utrumque videtur.

Ovid. Metam.

{HRJ: The quotation from Ovid’s Metamorphoses is from the tale of Hermaphroditus, at the point when he merges with the nymph who loved him: “They are not two, but the form is double, so it can be called neither woman nor boy, it appears like both and neither.” The following verse “letter” must be understood as a complete fiction, created to add pathos and additional interest to sell the publication. And, in fact, the following dedication makes it clear that this is a poet’s attempt to express what they imagine Grandjean’s feelings might have been. I have no clue to the identity of the poet or the woman the poet dedicates this to. It's unclear what meaning to place on Grandjean being identified as "Anne" in the title. While the author of the legal appeal primarily uses masculine language for Grandjean, he mostly avoids refering to Grandjean by given name, normally using the surname as I have done. My instinct is to consider it unlikely that the lawyer is also the author of this poem, but I don't know that the use of "Anne" is evidence in that direction. And as the poem uses a first person voice, we only see the poet's attitude toward Grandjean's gender expressed through Grandjean's only point of view. I have done scarcely any editing of the translation of the poem offered up by Deep-L, neither to turn it into more idioimatic English nor to attempt to turn it into better poetry. The poem is melodramatic, full of classical allusions, torn between fantasies of happiness and the agony of despair. And it's a testament to the longstanding uneasy partnership between factual news and entertainment. Whether the poem was originally circulated independently as a broadside and then bound in with the trial record, or whether it was written specifically to enhance the saleability of the legal document, we can only guess. Someone more expert in French publishing practices of the time could make more educated guesses. In a way, the poem ties this document back even more strongly to the underlying purpose of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project: the imaginative use of historical fact to envision fictionalized lives of queer people in the past.}


C'EST l'amour qui le premier m'a dicté des Verse c'est vous qui en avez eu le premier hommage: daignez y joindre celui que je vous offre aujourd'ui, une Piece que je confie à la Presse; c'est un tribut que je dois à l'aprobation que vous avez déja eu la bonté d’y donner. Si je suis parvenu à paindre l'Amour, c'est à vous : que j'en ai l'obligation; je l'ai peint comme vous me le faites sentir.

J’ai l’honneur d’être,

Votre très-humble Serviteur,



It is love which first dictated Poetry to me, it is you who had the first homage of it: deign to join to it that which I offer you today, a Piece which I entrust to the Press; it is a tribute which I owe to the approval which you have already had the goodness to give to it. If I have succeeded in painting Love, it is to you that I owe it; I have painted it as you make me feel it.

I have the honor to be,

Your most humble servant,


{HRJ: I will not comment extensively on the poem itself. Unlike the legal text, which I have edited and smoothed out for sense, I haven’t attempted to do much editing of the poetry. So this is an extremely literal translation, all courtesy of Deep-L. Within the scope of poetic imagery, it generally makes sense. The speaker recounts the events of the trial, bemoans their fate, briefly fantasizes about running away to the wilderness to live happily with their wife, then abandons that dream and descends into despair. I like that the poet imagined the possibility of scorning the verdict of the court and keeping the couple together. That’s my private head-cannon.}









QUEL jour affreux me luit ? Quelle horrible lumiere,
D'un rayon accablant vient frapper ma paupierre?
Dans quel triste neant mon Etre est il plongé?
Comme en un seul instant, pour moi tout a changé!
Proscrit, défavoué, rebut de la Nature;
Mon Etre est un opprobre & mon nom une injure.

WHAT dreadful day is shining on me? What horrible light,
Of a damning ray comes to strike my eyelid?
In what sad nothingness is my Being plunged?
How in a single instant, for me all has changed!
Outcast, disowned, Nature's reject;
My Being is a disgrace and my name an insult.

O toi, funeste objet d'un amour malheureux
Toi, dont l'attachement avoit combié mes vœux,
Du plus cruel destin Compagne infortunée,
Au malheur de mes jours, par l'Amour enchaînée,
Ma famme.... j'ose encor t'appeller de ce nom...
Viens calmer les transports qui troublent ma raison,
Tu peux, en partagent l'horreur qui me comsume {sic},
Des pleurs que je répands adoucir l'amertume.
Lis ces traits incertains qu'a tracé ma douleur:
Connais le trouble affreux qui déchire mon coeur.

O you, fatal object of an unhappy love
You, whose attachment had combined my vows,
Of the most cruel destiny Unfortunate companion,
To the misfortune of my days, by Love chained,
My family.... I still dare to call you by this name...
Come to calm the transports which disturb my reason,
You can, by sharing the horror which consumes me,
You can soften the bitterness of the tears I shed.
Read these uncertain lines that my pain has traced:
Know the terrible trouble that tears my heart.

Objet infortuné de la fureur céleste,
Je partage à regret le jour que je déteste.
Tout ce qui m'environne est ligué contre moi:
L'homme, en m’appercevant, recule avec effroi:
La femme me méprise, & malgré mon hommage,
La Nature à mes yeux rougit de son ouvrage.
Chacun de me haïr s'est imposé la Loi,
Ah ! dans mon désepoir, je n'ai récours qu'à toi.
Je sens que ton nom seul appaise mes allarmes.
Revole dans mes bras; viens essuyer mes larmes.
Aime moi .... Souviens-toi que je fus ton époux;
Que j'ai porté long-tems ce nom si saint, si doux …
J'en jouirais encor sans la lueur fatale
Qu'a porté sur nos feux une indigne Rivale.
Hélas ! quand de ses bras je volai dans les tiens,
Quand l'Amour nous unit des plus tendres liens,
Aurais-je présumé qu'elle se fut vengée
En publiant l'excès de sa flamme outragée;
Que, d'un sexe timide oubliant la pudeur,
N'écoutant que la voix d'une indiscrette ardeur;
Elle aurait déchiré, par un rapport coupable,
Des secrets de l'Hymen, le voile respectable;
Et que sur mon état plus instruite que moi,
Elle m'aurait fait voir indigne de ta foi.

Unfortunate object of the celestial fury,
I regretfully share the day I hate.
All that surrounds me is united against me:
The man, by apperceiving me, recoils with fear:
The woman despises me, and in spite of my homage,
Nature in my eyes blushes at her work.
Each one to hate me has imposed the Law on himself,
Ah! in my despair, I have recourse only to you.
I feel that your name alone appeals to my alarms.
Come back into my arms; come to wipe my tears.
Love me .... Remember that I was your husband;
That I have long borne this name so holy, so sweet...
I would still enjoy it without the fatal glow
That an unworthy rival has cast on our fires.
Alas! when from her arms I flew in yours,
When love united us with the most tender bonds,
Would I have presumed that she was avenged
By publishing the excess of her outraged flame;
That, of a timid sex forgetting the modesty,
Listening only to the voice of an indiscreet ardour;
She would have torn, by a guilty report,
Of the secrets of the Hymen, the respectable veil;
And that on my state more informed than me,
She would have made me see unworthy of your faith.

Nous vivions tous les deux, sans nulle defiance,
Dans cette douce paix que donne l'Innocence.
L'Amour & la Vertu dirigeaint notre cœur
Dans les sentiers étroits qui menent au bonheur,
Jamais nous n'avions vû la Discorde indocile
Par son flambeau cruel, allarmer notre asile.

We both lived, without any defiance,
In that sweet peace which Innocence gives.
Love and virtue directed our hearts
In the narrow paths that lead to happiness,
Never had we seen the indocile Discord
With its cruel torch, to light our asylum.

Aussi-tôt que l'Aurore avait doré les Cieux,
Que ses premiers rayons venaient frapper nos yeux,
À la Divinité dont nous sommes l'image,
Nous portions à genous un légitime hommage,
Et d'un travail honnête employant le secours,
Nous bénissions la main qui veillait sur nos jours;
Et dès que la Nuit sombre, amenant les ténèbres,
Déployait les ressorts de ses voiles funèbres,
Un modeste repas, apprêté par ta main,
Servait, moins à flatter, qu'à calmer notre faim :
Mais bien-tôt le sommeil fermant notre paupiere,
Nous forçait à chercher un repos salutaire
Qui pût nous délaffer des fatigues du jour :
Nous cherchions le repos .... & nous trouvions l'amour
Unis étroitement, les plus vives caresses
Signalaient chaque jours nos égales tendresses.
O Ciel! aurais-je crû dans des momens si doux,
Que je n'étais pas fait pour être ton époux ?
Aurais-je pû penser que l'aveugle Nature
Ne m'offrait du bonheur que la vaine imposture…
Je croyais des humains être le plus heureux;
Hélas ! & mon destin était le plus affreux.

As soon as the dawn had gilded the skies,
That its first rays came to strike our eyes,
To the Divinity whose image we are,
We kneel down to pay a legitimate homage,
And from honest work employing the help,
We blessed the hand that watched over our days;
And as soon as the dark Night, bringing darkness,
Unfurled the springs of its dark veils,
A modest meal, prepared by your hand,
Served, less to flatter, than to calm our hunger:
But soon sleep closed our eyelids,
Forced us to seek a salutary rest
Which could relieve us of the day's labors:
We sought rest .... And we found love
United closely, the most vivid caresses
Signaled each day our equal tenderness.
O Heavens! would I have believed in such sweet moments,
That I was not made to be your husband?
Could I have thought that blind Nature
Offered me only the vain imposture of happiness...
I thought I was the happiest of humans;
Alas! & my destiny was the most dreadful.

Le Ciel, dont j'implorais la faveur tutélere,
Ne m'avoit point encore accordé d'ètre pere.
C'était le seul objet qui manquait à mes yeux;
J'a cru qu'il différait ce moment précieux.

Heaven, whose tutelary favor I implored,
Had not yet granted me to be a father.
It was the only object which missed in my eyes;
I believed that it postponed this precious moment.

Mais quel spectable horrible à mes yeux se présente ?
Que veulent ces Archers ?... Cette troupe sanglante?
Sur qui va donc tomber leur courroux menaçant ?
Ils poursuivent le crime, & je suis innocent.
Quoi ! je suis dans leurs fers !.. C'est moi... moment terrible!
Pourquoi ? Qu'ai-ję donc fait? O Ciel! Est-il possible?
Eh quoi ! vous me privez de la clarté des Cieux....
Quel est donc cet asyle ? Un cachot ténébreux.
Arrêtez & craignez la céleste vengeance,
Barbares: Est-ce ainsi qu'on traite l'Innocence ?
Mais je revois le jour, & c'est pour êttre admis
Dans cet auguste Temple oú préside Thémis.
Ah ! je sens dans mon cœur renaître l'espéranse...
Quelle troupe nouvelle en ce moment s'avance ?
Ils proménent sur moi leurs regads curieux.
Quel honteux examen ! Rien n'est sacré pour eux.
Cruels.! Quoi ! Vous osez, outrageant la Nature
Sur ses secrets trahis mettre une main impure.
Quel mystère odieux, votre œil veut-il percer?
Qu'entends-je ? Quel Arrêt osent-ils prononcer !
Je ne suis plus qu'un monstre, un composé bizare,
Des jeux de la Nature exemple affreux & rare,
Un mortel anonime, un être infortuné,
Qui ne doit qu'éprouver le malheur d'être né!

But what a horrible spectacle to my eyes is presented?
What do these Archers want?... This bloody troop?
On whom will their threatening wrath fall?
They pursue crime, and I am innocent.
What! I am in their irons!... It's me... terrible moment!
Why? What have I done? Oh Heaven! Is it possible?
What! you deprive me of the brightness of the Heavens ....
What is this asylum? A dark dungeon.
Stop & fear the celestial vengeance,
Barbarians: is this how they treat Innocence?
But I see the day again, and it is to be admitted
In this august Temple where Themis presides.
Ah! I feel in my heart the revival of hope...
What new troop at this moment advances?
They walk on me their curious regards.
What a shameful examination! Nothing is sacred for them.
Cruel! What! You dare, outraging Nature
On her betrayed secrets to put an impure hand.
What odious mystery does your eye want to pierce?
What do I hear? What stop do they dare to pronounce!
I am no more than a monster, a bizarre compound,
Of Nature's games, an awful and rare example,
An unloved mortal, an unfortunate being,
Who must only experience the misfortune of being born!

Mais ce n'est point assez, & le Sort qui m'opprime
Aux plus sanglans affronts veut joindre encor le crime:
J'ai profané, dit-on, les fermens les plus saints,
Et l'on doit m'en punir. Des Juges inhumains,
A l'opprobre, au supplice ont condamné ma vie,
Arrêtez, rendez-moi ma liberté ravie;
Suis-je donc criminel ? ... Vous dédaignez ma voix,
Et vous m'assassinez avec le fer de Loix:
Eh bien, il est un Temple augufte, respectable;
L'innocence у rencontre un appui sécourable;
Le coupable y frémit; Sur le trône des Lys,
Sous les traits d'un mortel, on reconnoit Thémis.
On n'y voit point la Brigue emporter la balance,
Et sous le poids de l'or, écraser l'innocence:
Et, suivant de ses feux les transport indiscrets,

But it is not enough, & the Fate which oppresses me
To the most bloody affronts wants to join again the crime:
I profaned, they say, the most holy close,(?)
And I must be punished for it. Inhuman judges,
To opprobrium and torment have condemned my life,
Stop, give me back my freedom;
Am I a criminal? ... You despise my voice,
And you murder me with the iron of the law:
Well, there is an august, respectable Temple;
Innocence meets a securitized support;
The guilty one shudders there; On the throne of the Lilies,
Under the features of a mortal, one recognizes Themis.
One does not see there the Brig to carry away the balance,
And under the weight of gold, crush innocence:
And, following the indiscreet transports with her fires,

Jamais la passion n'y dicta des Arrêts.
Le fanatisme obscur, l'infâme calomnie,
Y sentent s'émousser les traits de leur furie.
C'est là que je remets mon déplorable sort :
J'y trouverai sans doute, ou ma grace, ou ma mort.

Passion never dictated any judgments.
Obscure fanaticism, infamous slander,
Feel the bluntness of their fury.
It is there that I hand over my deplorable fate:
I will undoubtedly find there, or my grace, or my death.

Mon espoir est fondé, j'y trouve la justice,
Et j'échappe en tramblant aux horreurs du supplice,
Je n'irai point, Public, méchamment curieux,
D'un spectacle infâmant rassasier tes yeux,

My hope is founded, I find justice,
And I escape the horrors of torment,
I will not, Public, wickedly curious,
To satiate your eyes with an infamous spectacle,

Mais quel nouveau revers vient m'accabler encore!.
Il faut me séparer de celle que j'adore.
Un Arrêt tout puissant m'en impose la Loi,
Et l'amour d'un Epoux est un affront pour toi.
Nos liens sont rompus ... ils sont illégitimes.
Eh quoi ! sans le sçavoir on commet donc des crimes ?

But what a new setback comes to overwhelm me again!
I must separate myself from the one I adore.
An all powerful Decree imposes me the Law,
And the love of a spouse is an affront to you.
Our bonds are broken ... they are illegitimate.
What! without knowing it, one thus commits crimes?

Pourras-tu bien souscrire à cet Arrêt cruel
Hélas ! rappelle-toi ce ferment solemnel
Qui nous unit tous deux aux pieds du Sanctuaire....
Ce qu'a fait l'Eternel l'homme ose le défaire !
Eh bien, suis-moi : Fuyons ces Etres dangereux,
Puisqu'on est criminel en vivant avec eux,
Vils esclaves des Loix, qu'a fait leur barbarie,
La Nature elle-même éprouve leur furię.
Laissons-les s'accabler sous leurs vains préjugés,
Et porter lâchement les fers qu'ils ont forgés.
Fuyons dans ces déserts où la Nature expire :
Ils sont inhabités, mais l'air qu'on y respire
N'est point empoisonné par le soufflé odieux
De ces Humains cruels qui condamnet nos nœuds.
Le Ciel qui nous forma, qui porta dans notre ame,
Ces élans mutuels du feu qui nous enflamme,
Veillera sur nos jours : nos liens sont sacrés;
Pourquoi, s'il l'offensaient, les aurait-il ferrés ?
Viens; ces autres obscurs, ces mouts inaccessibles,
Ces rochers a nos yeux deviendront moins terribles;
Nos soins & notre amour sçauront les embellir.
Tu verras l'Aquilon chassé par le zéphir,
Les neiges, en torrens, s'écouler dans les plaines,
La chaleur du midi réchauffer nos halaines,
E la Nature enfin, sensible à nos revers,
Créer à nos désirs un nouvel Univers.
Nous en jouirons seuls : Ces mortels sanguinaires
Qui jugent la Nature & percent ses mystères,
Ne viendront plus troubler l'union de nos cours :
Dieu seul éclairera nos fidelles ardeurs;
Sa main dirigera nos ames bien heureuses
Loin du joug accablant des ces Loix orgueilleuses
Que l'Homme impofe à l'homme, & qui, par le trépas
Etonnent l'Univers & ne le changent pas.
Nos jours s'écouleront au sein de la Tendresse;
Chaque jour, chaque instant, l'Amour & son ivresse
Porteront dans nos cœurs leurs charmes bienfaisans.
Le plafir unira deux Epoux, deux Amans,
Nos baisers .... Qu'as-tu dit? Ah, malheureux arrête !
Vois le Ciel courroucé qui menace ta tête ...
Quels souhaits formes-tu?... Dan ton état affreux,
Oses-tu te livrer à de coupables vœux ?
Tu prétends que le Ciel devenu plus propice,
Répandu sur les feux sa faveur protectrice
Rentre dans ton néant : Connois-toi … Tu frémis?
Un espoir si flatteur peut-il t'être permis !
Avant de voir sur toi la Vérité paroître,
Si tu fus innocent, tu vas cesser de l'être;
Et ces lâches desirs que tu viens de former
Sont autant de forfaits que tu dois expier:

Will you be able to subscribe to this cruel ruling
Alas! remember this solemn ferment
That unites us both at the feet of the Sanctuary ....
What the Eternal has done, man dares to undo!
Well, follow me: let us flee these dangerous Beings,
Since one is criminal by living with them,
Vile slaves of the Laws, that their barbarity has made,
Nature herself feels their fury.
Let them weigh themselves down under their vain prejudices,
And cowardly wear the irons they have forged.
Let us flee to these deserts where Nature expires:
They are uninhabited, but the air we breathe
Is not poisoned by the odious breath
Of these cruel Humans who condemn our knots.
The Heaven that formed us, that carried in our soul
These mutual impulses of the fire that ignites us,
Will watch over our days: our bonds are sacred;
Why, if they offended Him, would He have shod them?
Come; these other dark, inaccessible moors,
These rocks to our eyes will become less terrible;
Our care and our love will be able to embellish them.
You will see Aquilon chased by the zephyr,
The snows, in torrents, will flow in the plains,
The heat of the south warm our breaths,
And Nature at last, sensitive to our setbacks,
To create a new universe for our desires.
We shall enjoy it alone: These bloodthirsty mortals
Who judge Nature and pierce her mysteries,
Will no longer disturb the union of our courses:
God alone will enlighten our faithful ardor;
His hand will direct our happy souls
Far from the oppressive yoke of these proud laws
That man imposes on man, and which, by death
Surprise the universe and do not change it.
Our days will pass in the bosom of Tenderness;
Every day, every moment, Love and its intoxication
Will carry in our hearts their beneficial charms.
The Heavens will unite two Spouses, two Lovers,
Our kisses .... What did you say? Ah, unhappy stop!
See the wrathful Heaven that threatens your head...
What wishes do you form?... In your terrible state,
Dare you indulge in guilty wishes?
You pretend that Heaven has become more propitious,
Spreading its protective favor over the fires
Goes back to your nothingness: Know thyself... Do you shudder?
Can such a flattering hope be allowed to you!
Before seeing the Truth appear on you,
If you were innocent, you will cease to be so;
And these cowardly desires that you have just formed
Are so many crimes that you must expiate:

Quoi ! lorsque dans mes sens que le desir consume,
La flamme la plus forte, à chaque instant s'allume;
Quand je sens tous les feux du plus ardent amour
Brûler & déchirer mon ame tour-à-tour;
Quand mon cœur entraîné par la Loi la plus douce,
Suit l'instinct séducteur qui l'agite & le pousse;
Et que par la Nature au plaisir animé;
Il cherche avec transport l'objet qui l'a charmé;
Ce cœur est criminel! ...O Nature barbare !
Ton instinct nous unit & ta Loi nous séparé...
Ah ! lorsque tu formas les fragiles ressorts
Dont ta main créatrice a composé mon corps,
Devais-tu, négligeant ta rare prévoyence,
Si loin de mes desirs attacher ma puissance,
Et me donner un cœur & des sens superflus,
Pour me faire chercher un bonheur qui n'est plus.

What! when in my senses that the desire consumes,
The strongest flame, at every moment, ignites;
When I feel all the fires of the most ardent love
Burn and tear my soul in turn;
When my heart, driven by the sweetest law,
Follows the seductive instinct that stirs it and pushes it;
And that by Nature to pleasure animated;
It seeks with transport the object which charmed it;
This heart is criminal! ...O barbaric Nature!
Your instinct unites us & your Law separates us...
Ah! when you formed the fragile springs
Of which your creative hand composed my body,
Should you, neglecting your rare foresight,
So far from my desires to attach my power,
And give me a superfluous heart and senses,
To make me seek a happiness that is no more.

Reprends ces dons cruels que ma fait ta colere;
Ces dons qui m'ont rendu l'opprobre de la Terre.
Termine d'un seul mot mon déplorable sort.
Tu le peux.... Comme un bien je recevrai la mort
Hélas ! de tes faveurs ce fera la plus grande.
Tu soihaites la mort? Ta bouche la demande,
Malheureux, l'oses-tu ? le Ciel est ton appui.
Quoi tu peux l'accuser quand tu dépens de lui?
Sçais-tu qu'il doit punir ta criminelle audace?
Obéis en silence, & mérite ta grace.
S'il a frappé ton cœur par des coups trop cruels;
Adore ses décretes.... c'est le sort des mortels.

Take back these cruel gifts that your anger gave me;
These gifts which made me the disgrace of the Earth.
End with a single word my deplorable fate.
You can.... As a good I will receive death
Alas! of your favours it will be the greatest.
You wish death? Your mouth asks it,
Unhappy, do you dare? Heaven is your support.
What you can accuse him when you spend of him?
Do you know that He must punish your criminal audacity?
Obey in silence, and deserve your grace.
If he struck your heart with too cruel blows;
Adore his decrees.... it is the fate of the mortals.

J'obéis. Toi qui lis ces tristes caracteres,
Du trouble de mes sens affreux dépositeres;
Toi qui fis mon bonheur.... Que je n'ose nommer;
Que mon malheureux sort m'a défendu d'aimer;
Pour qui .. c'en est assez... fuis :.. Mon ardeur t'outrage.
L'Amour est fait pour toi, la honte est mon partage.
Va, fuis... je vais traîner le reste de mes jours
Loin de l'œil des mortels.... Le Ciel est mon recours.
Puissent-ils oublier ma déplorable Histoire :
Toi seule, souviens-toi que j'avois mis ma gloire
A chérir tes Vertus, à t'aimer... O douleurs !
Adieu !... Sur cet Ecrit verse au moins quelques pleurs,

I obey. You who read these sad characters,
Of the trouble of my terrible senses;
You who made my happiness.... Whom I dare not name;
That my unhappy fate forbade me to love;
For whom... it is enough... flee: My ardour outrages you.
Love is made for you, shame is my share.
Go, flee... I will drag the rest of my days
Far from the eye of the mortals .... Heaven is my recourse.
May they forget my deplorable History:
You alone, remember that I had put my glory
To cherish your virtues, to love you... O pains!
Farewell!... On this writing pours at least some tears,



Time period: 
Event / person: 
Monday, October 31, 2022 - 07:00

This installment concludes the legal document, with a verdict that is surprising in some ways and that opens as many questions as it answers. The theme throughout this whole series has been to recognize how very different historic attitudes toward non-normative gender and sexuality could  be from what we might imagine. The primary sources for history sometimes have a way of upending our expectations  in that way. (Although the effect can be a bit less ambiguous when considering material culture than when considering social history.) Yet it's important to remember that while the details of history may surprise us in unexpected ways, that doesn't mean that we should imagine that "anything goes." In this historic context, it might be plausible that the court would accept and reinforce the categorization of an intersex person as male and validate Grandjean's marriage to Lambert. It might be plausible that the court would accept the lawyer's arguments for recategorization regardless of Grandjean's actual physiology and validate the marriage. (We don't actually know whether the court ruled "intersex, but not male enough" or "the evidence does not support an intersex diagnosis.") But it is implausible that the court would conclude that Grandjean should be categorized as female but that the marriage should be allowed to stand. On the other hand, if the court held that same-sex desire was an unimaginable possibility, then it could be plausible that they could have directed Grandjean to return to living as female but with no restrictions on continued association with Lambert, much less with other women. Within these plausibilities and implausibilities, we can imagine the possible paths to a happy and fulfilling life that a person with non-normative sex, gender, or sexuality might have been able to find in 18th century France. Especially if they were lucky enough not to come to the scrutiny of the law.

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.

The Judgment

NOTA. Par Arrêt rendu en la Chambre de la Tournelle du Parlement de Paris, le 10 Janvier 1765, Monsieur le Procureur Général a été reçu appellant comme d'abus de la célébration du mariage d'Anne Grandjean, & ce mariage à été déclaré abusif; la Sentence de la Sénéchaussée de Lyon, sur l'accusation en profanation de Sacrement, a été infirmée, & l’Accusé a été mis hors de Cour; il lui a néanmoins été enjoint de prendre les habits de femme; avec défenses de hanter Françoise Lambert, & autres personnes du même sexe.

NOTE. By judgment rendered in the Chamber of the Tournelle of the Parliament of Paris, on January 10, 1765, Monsieur le Procureur Général was received as an appellant for abuse of the celebration of the marriage of Anne Grandjean, & this marriage was declared abusive; the Sentence of the Sénéchaussée of Lyon, on the accusation of profanation of the Sacrament, was overturned, & the Accused was put out of Court; he was nevertheless enjoined to take on the clothes of a woman; with prohibitions to frequent Françoise Lambert, & other persons of the same sex.

{HRJ: This is a mixed judgment. The appeals court accepted that Grandjean did not willfully profane the sacrament of marriage and overturned that verdict. Grandjean was free of prison and evidently not subject to further punishment. If I understand the legal system correctly, the appeal took place prior to the corporal punishment, so that was voided, not simply rendered a legal error. The court is not willing to sustain Grandjean’s categorization as male. The text says "he was enjoined totake on the clothes of a woman"  but we must allow for this being the lawyer's paraphrase, in which the lawyer continues to refer to Grandjean with male language. Several questions remain open. Was the physiological evidence a factor here? And, if so, in which direction. If we posit that Grandjean was intersex—was the physiological evidence insufficient in their minds for male status? Compare with the case of Thomas/ina Hall a century earlier in Virginia. The physical evidence for Hall’s being intersex is much more solid, and the various legal authorities were perplexed by what standard to apply for binary categorization—compounded by Hall embracing a non-binary identity. Alternately, did the court reject the lawyer's argument that Grandjean was intersex and supported the appeal purely on the basis that Grandjean sincerely believed they had been officially re-categorized as male? But while Grandjean was enjoined to return to a female social identity, there’s also the stipulation that they are not to continue associating with their wife, Françoise Lambert, or “other persons of the same sex.” And it’s this last that really throws a wrench into the works, both in terms of what the judges believed and in terms of Grandjean's future. Requiring a separation from Lambert might simply be enforcing the dissolution of the marriage. But what does it mean that Grandjean may not associate with others of the “same sex?” For a person living socially as a woman to be forbidden to associate with women is drastic. Even if Grandjean were then to marry a man, the vast majority of their everyday life would involve socializing with women. And Grandjean can’t live as a man-among-men if required to present socially as female. Further, the general prohibition (as opposed to the specific ban on associating with Lambert) strongly suggests that this court did recognize the potential for female same-sex desire, and that was the motivation for the prohibition. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t know what Grandjean’s fate was, but the court is setting them up for a very unhappy and unsuccessful life, despite the conviction being overturned. Some of these questions are explored imaginatively in the poem--written from Grandjean's point of view--appended to some editions of the legal text.}

Time period: 
Event / person: 
Saturday, October 29, 2022 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode Episode 242 - The Wolf that Sings on the Mountain by Miyuki Jane Pinckard - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/10/29 - listen here)

When I sit down to schedule the fiction episodes for the year, sometimes the order has to do with how difficult I think it’s going to be to find the best narrator for the work. But sometimes I’m able to schedule a story for the right seasonal context. Twice I’ve had a perfect spooky story to schedule right around Halloween. And this time there was no question about finding the right narrator, because the author, Miyuki Jane Pinckard is, herself, an experienced fiction narrator.

Miyuki’s story, “The Wolf that Sings on the Mountain” is a tale of shape-shifters and women trapped—not in a particular shape—but in a life controlled and directed by someone else. But even in 10th century Japan—in the Heian era—there are ways for a woman to take agency over her life, and to make common cause with one who might seem destined to be a rival or enemy. Even to find love.

Author photo of Miyuki Jane Pinckard

Miyuki Jane Pinckard is a writer, game designer, educator, and the co-founder of Story Kitchen Studio, a community for exploring writing techniques. Her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, the anthology, If There's Anyone Left, Vol. 1, and other venues. She was born in Tokyo, Japan and now lives in Venice, California, with her partner and a little dog. She likes wine and mystery novels and karaoke. Follow her @miyukijane (for Twitter and Instagram) and at her website,

This recording is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License. You may share it in the full original form but you may not sell it, you may not transcribe it, and you may not adapt it.

The Wolf that Sings on the Mountain

by Miyuki Jane Pinckard


My lord husband’s new concubine arrived at the beginning of my thirtieth winter.

It rained heavily that afternoon. I watched from behind a reed blind as the porters set the shabby palanquin in the center of the courtyard. She climbed out and glanced at the iron-bound gates as they creaked shut behind her. She shivered in her plain hemp robe.

I had arranged for my maids to be cleaning and repacking my spring wardrobe, so no one was there to greet her. I lifted the blind and called out to her. “Are you lost?”

She started, and then, heedless of the wet gravel, fell to her knees to bow. Her black hair spilled like ink over her shoulders. “I’m called Shirayuki, my lady.”

White-as-snow. A silly, sentimental name. “A new scullery maid, I presume? The kitchens are to the east.”

She lifted her head and I suddenly saw a glimpse of why my lord had chosen her. “I have been sent here as my lord’s wife.”

I am his wife,” I said sweetly. “I don’t know who you are.” I withdrew to my chambers, leaving her alone in the rain.


That night, long after I’d sent my women to bed, I lit my brazier and gazed into my bronze hand mirror. My eyes were clear, my cheeks and forehead carried no trace of a wrinkle or spot. My lips were small and well-formed. I was still Lady Akemi, at the height of my power. I burned sacred herbs in the brazier and let the smoke pass over my skin.

My lord had been married before me, to a woman who’d died shortly after I arrived. I never met her. The maids never spoke of her. I’d never wondered about her fate until now. Her memory had made no more impression on the household than a dream.

Was I expected to fade away like a ghost, ceding my place to a newcomer?

Something had to be done.


When my lord left on a hunting trip, I proceeded to the east wing to meet the interloper. It is best to confront the problem directly, in my experience, and understand it fully before one takes action.

She welcomed me with cautious warmth. She was so changed from the forlorn figure of a few weeks before that I found much to admire. Her hair shone with perfumed oil, cascading like a waterfall down her back, exposing her lovely face with its rosebud lips. Her beauty flowed through every line of her form — the sweet bend of her neck, her fluid spine. But her beauty was not simply physical. Her spirit lit her presence with a subtle glimmer, like sunlight glancing off a frosted lake.

I gave her a bolt of silk that had been gathering dust in storage. “Let’s talk privately, you and I.” I leaned in closer to her. She smelled of peonies.

She seemed surprised, but she was polite.  “I’m so glad. I was afraid you hated me.”

“Nonsense! What could be more natural than love between us? We serve the same lord.”

A flash of fury crossed her countenance. “You’ve nothing to be jealous of,” she said. “I despise him.”

Jealous? Of her? I wanted to laugh but I hid my contempt behind my sleeve. “Poor girl. You were a virgin when you arrived, then?”

She flushed and looked down at her hands, twisting the cloth of her silk robe.

I could hardly believe it. “You are still?”

She lifted her chin with a hint of defiance. “I fight him when he comes to me.” She scrubbed at her cheeks like a peasant. “What should I do?”

What did you expect? I wanted to say. You expected love? It was a duty, a price to pay to live in luxury as the mistress of a grand estate. But my words lodged in my throat as her eyes, ablaze, fixed on mine, as if demanding something from me.

She grasped my hands. “Help me. How do you bear it?”

For the first time since I was a child, I had no notion of what to say. I pulled away. “I’m sorry… I cannot advise you.”

“Visit me again, please,” she said, her voice rough. “I’m so alone.”

I returned to my room in great consternation. My heart beat rapidly, though I could not pinpoint the cause.


Since my visit with her, I could think of little else. She invaded my dreams. My thoughts turned to her at unexpected moments during the day. I was so distracted that I nearly forgot to begin preparations for my lord’s winter poetry party, which I’d hosted flawlessly for the last decade.

She was the stone in the stream, interrupting its tranquil flow. I had to be ruthless and expel her.

That evening I told my ladies that I’d be in seclusion for purification.

I took off my silks and put on a simple white robe. I lit my brazier and three sticks of holy incense. I wrote the sigil for “wolf” on paper and passed it through the fragrant smoke of the incense. I closed my eyes and prayed. Then I placed the paper in the brazier, where it flared blue-bright.

With my hand-mirror, I reflected the light from the flame onto the wall, creating a pattern of light and shadow that my incantations shaped into a wolf’s form. I stepped into the shadow and pulled the wolf-form over my own. It scorched my skin as I stretched it laboriously over my limbs and back, across my belly and breasts. I fell to my hands and knees, gritting my teeth against the pain. The wolf-skin scraped hot embers over every inch of my skin, searing itself into place.

At last the agony subsided and I lurched to my feet. Against the wall I saw my shadow — a hulking, long-legged beast. I grinned and my tongue roved over sharp teeth.

On four feet I slipped into the garden and into the darkness. I was free, wild. The moon called to me, but I resisted the urge to howl at it. The snow had piled high in a corner of the garden and I could climb it and jump over the wall. I could disappear forever into the woods, leaving Shirayuki, my lord, the villa, my entire life behind.

I caught her scent. Her perfume was distinct — tantalizing and light, a touch of orange peel, of peonies, and something richer, muskier, that sang to my animal nature. I loped across the villa complex to her wing. I jumped onto the veranda and nosed open the sliding door of her chambers. She lay in her bedclothes, highlighted by a spill of moonlight. She turned over, sighed.

The wolf in me found it difficult to focus. I’d planned to frighten her into hysterics, to chase her, to cause her so much anguish that my lord would deem her unfit to wear the mantle of mistress, and put her aside.

Instead, I felt the overpowering urge to lie next to her and lick away her tears with my tongue.

She stirred with a sigh. “Is someone there?”

I lowered my head and growled. My body tensed, waiting for her scream. Her fear would reawaken the predator in me, and my wolf-self would lunge and chase her.

But she did not scream. She sat up.

I bared my teeth. My growl reverberated through the room. I could smell her anxiety, an acrid spiky smell, and her hands trembled as she drew her bedclothes over her chest.

Her voice was gentle, though unsteady. “Are you hungry?”

Confused, I cocked my head.

“You should run before the guards find you. Such a magnificent animal like you shouldn’t be killed.”

She felt pity—for me! Outrageous! I growled, pulling my lips fully back from my teeth.

“Are you going to kill me?” she said softly. To my shock, she reached a hand to the neck of her robe and pulled it open, exposing her throat. “Go ahead. It might be better than living here as a prisoner.”

I imagined ripping into her inviting flesh, burying my muzzle in her fragrant blood, crunching her elegant bones. Saliva dripped from my jaws.

“Are you lonely?” She reached her hand out towards me.

I staggered back. I scrambled out of her room, through the snow-covered courtyard and back to my own chambers. Ice bit my flesh as I ripped the wolf-form off my skin, leaving me panting and shivering with exhaustion. With the last of my strength, I wiped away the snowy paw prints on my veranda with my robes. I went to bed seething with frustration mingled with wonder.

She had cast a spell on me. I had to break it.


After several days I came to my decision: it would be poison.

The suspicion would fall on me, of course, but I could weather that. It needn’t be death. Illness would be enough. My lord had a horror of disease. He would shut her up in a little house far away from here, to live out the rest of her days in seclusion. I would not have to see her or think of her. I could learn, in time, to forget her.

My chance came one morning when I heard she’d missed a recent shrine visit. I went to her chambers with an offering of medicine: a small vial of plum wine into which I’d mixed dried and powdered organs of the lethal blowfish, along with other components to simulate the symptoms of a plague. Not enough to kill, I judged, but enough to alarm her maids and my lord.

Shirayuki was still in her bedclothes, her eyes red. I slid the door shut behind me so we were alone. “What’s the matter?” I asked.

Then I saw the knife in her hands.

I sat next to her. “You’re planning to turn that blade into your heart?”

Her head drooped and she sobbed. I should have simply walked away and let her complete her plan. I should have left it up to fate to solve the problem of Shirayuki. But when I imagined blood staining her pearlescent skin, the injustice of it, the sheer waste of a life, twisted inside me.

I took the knife from her gently. “You’re still young and strong. Learn to survive, Shirayuki.”

“I used to be angry with you,” she said, in her husky voice. “But now I realize that you’re just as much a prisoner as I am.”

I was too surprised to laugh out loud. A prisoner? I was the queen of the west wing. An army of servants obeyed me, and I feted leading poets and politicians of the city. The emperor himself had admired my beauty. When I spoke, ministers listened. “Don’t waste your pity on me.”

She took my hand. “Pity? No, I admire your strength.” Her voice was both sweet and bitter. She bent over my hand and pressed it to her cheek. Her tears left a damp spot on my knuckles. “But I’m not like you. I’ll die if I stay here.”

I almost told her about my plan then, but I was suddenly afraid. What if the poison was too strong? What if it hurt her? “You could feign illness,” I said. “My lord would send you away.”

“But I’d still be captive,” she said with a fierceness that struck my soul. She was as wild as the wolf inside me.

“Where could you be free? Is there such a place?”

“I’d go to Ise,” she said quickly, as if she’d thought about this. “I’d ask the priestesses for sanctuary.” She paused. Her eyes held mine. “You could come with me.”

“And then what? Spend our days muttering prayers, in seclusion from the world, among coarse nuns with missing teeth? Begging for our supper?” I reached out a tentative hand to stroke her hair. “Is that freedom?”

She said nothing. She turned her face into my shoulder and her tears flowed. It felt oddly as if her head belonged there, nestled against my neck. I closed my eyes and breathed in her scent which was now as familiar to me as my own. The vial of poison I’d prepared remained in my sleeve.

I could not think of what to do. I felt lost.


The next night, a soft tapping at my door roused me.

Shirayuki stepped in, her eyes wild, marked by deep hollows. She clutched her knife in her hand. Around her pale wrist circled a raw red mark, a bracelet of pain.

“My lord grows impatient,” she whispered. “When he comes to me again, I’ll stab him in the heart.”

“The guards will kill you.”

“I don’t care.” Her voice was muffled against my shoulder. “At least I’ll be free.”

My heart ached. She was not like me. My rage bolstered me; hers would destroy her. “Death isn’t freedom.”

She looked up at me. “Then teach me, Akemi.”

She’d never said my name before. It set my skin alight with new awareness. “Teach you what?”

“To transform.”

I froze. “You knew?”

“I wasn’t sure. But there was something about your wolf-eyes… My grandmother knew something of the shaman’s arts, too.”

I put my fingers to her chin and raised her lovely face to mine. “I’ve been trained to the practice; you haven’t. You wouldn’t be able to turn back. Once you take on the form of the beast, it’s yours forever.”

“I’d rather be a wolf than his slave.”

“Do you understand what you’re saying? You’ll live by your wits, scavenging food, in constant danger from starvation, traps, and hunters. Sleeping in the dirt every night.” I stroked her cheek. “And all your beauty erased.”

“What has beauty ever brought me but misery?” she said, and I almost recoiled at the raw pain in her tone.

“My lord will hunt you.”

She laughed mirthlessly. “Then let me die with my jaws around his throat.”

I could try to kill him myself. The vial of poison lay quietly in my bureau among my inks and brushes. But then where would we be? We’d be two widows, alone, to be sold off to another lord. I stroked her hair. “Let me think. Return to your rooms and rest.”

“I don’t want to be alone tonight. Let me stay here with you.”

I moved over to make room for her and she crawled in against my body and put her head on my arm. The scent of her hair enveloped me and I closed my eyes.

She shifted and her arm tightened around my waist. “Come with me, Akemi.” Her whisper caressed my ear and I shivered.

And give up what I have? My silk robes, my warm bed, the maids who scurry to do my bidding, my seat at the head of the table? The power I’d built out of nothing, the influence I’d cultivated? I’d fought too bitterly and sacrificed too much. “No.”

“Are you sure?” Her fingertips stroked the bare flesh of my arm. “I’d miss you.”

And I, you. “On the next new moon,” I said. “Come back to me then.”


On the tenth night of the New Year, a moonless night, I lit my brazier.

Shirayuki came to my chamber. Her face was pale and drawn but she did not waver. I took her hand and led her in. I kissed her forehead and cheeks and spoke the spells of transformation. My mirror cast the shadow of her wolf on the wall. I showed her how to step into the animal form.

“It’ll hurt,” I said. “Make no sound.”

“I’m ready.” Her face was etched with resolve.

“When it’s done, your mind will be confused with the wolf-mind. You must run from here, understand? Join the pack on the mountain, and go north with them. Go away as far as you can.”

She embraced me. “I’ll come back for you every winter, when the pack moves south.”

“No. Never come back. Forget me, forget this place.”

She seemed about to argue but only pressed her lips together.

I began the ritual.

It nearly broke me to see her in such torment. Her body writhed under the burning heat of the magic, her beautiful face grimaced with pain. I pulled the wolf-skin over her damp body as quickly as I could, tears painting my cheeks as I worked. “Shirayuki, my brave girl,” I murmured. She panted and groaned softly but didn’t cry out.

At last it was done and she lay on the floor, a white wolf with golden eyes. Her flanks heaved with exhaustion, but she was alive. It had worked. I rubbed her ears and kissed her muzzle. I lifted a bowl of water to her lips and her long red tongue lapped it up. Slowly her strength returned.

“Get up,” I said. “Get away from here, quickly.”

She pulled herself up to her feet. Her golden eyes stared into mine. She licked my hand and whined.

“I can’t go with you,” I said. “I belong here.” But my voice broke on that last word and to my astonishment, fresh tears flowed from me. I remembered my first day here at the villa, when I was the awkward girl in the palanquin, just eighteen years old. I’d quailed at the forbidding walls looming above me. The maids treated me brusquely and without pity. I’d cried myself to sleep every night for months.

Shirayuki nuzzled my shoulder. My arms wrapped her neck tightly and my tears dampened her rough fur.

She pulled out of my embrace to regard me again with her golden gaze, as bright as sunlight on water. She pushed her head against my torso, trying to comfort me. I stood and pulled open the doors to my private courtyard. The wind whipped through my chamber and the flames in the brazier guttered. “Go,” I said, “before they find you.”

She hesitated. She was a wolf, and I was all the pack she’d known. She tried to nose at my hand again, as if asking for a caress. I broke off a branch from my plum tree and struck her flank with it. “Go!”

She shied away, then lowered her head. She sat on her haunches on the veranda and watched me.

“You stubborn fool.” Crystals of ice clung to my eyelashes and cheeks. “I don’t want you here!”

She whined, then lay down on her belly, her eyes fixed on me.

“The maids will wake and call the guards.” Then they will put me to bed with anxious fluttering hands. I thought. They will report to my lord that I was found in my shift on the veranda, snow in my hair. And in the spring I will dress in my spring robes and host moon-viewing parties and tea ceremonies, and the summer will come on the backs of singing cicadas and I will wear the fresh colors of summer and host poetry parties, and then autumn will come with its harvest festivals, a harbinger of the winter, when the wolves will sing again on the mountain.

And at some point in the turning of the seasons, this year or the next, my lord will bring a new woman to the villa.

The white wolf hadn’t moved. She waited for me.

“You wretched, disobedient, thing. I see I have no choice.” I pulled out my mirror and paper and brush. I wrote the spell. The flame trembled and danced like a wild thing. I grit my teeth against a howl of agony as I pulled the wolf-skin over me. Scorching pain painted my bones with heat until my vision clouded. I fell in a heap of bone and fur on the reed mat.

I came to as she licked my muzzle tenderly. I stretched my powerful body. She sat back with a wolf-grin. She waited until I had lapped some water and staggered to my feet. Then she bounded out into the courtyard, checking to make sure I followed. She was so strong and graceful. We leaped over the garden wall and onto the road.

A light snow had started. It would settle over our paw prints, erasing the traces of our passage. She blended into the snowy mist as she strode ahead with long-legged confidence. I followed her.

By dawn, we would be high on the mountain, where the wolves sang together.

Show Notes

This quarter’s fiction episode presents “The Wolf that Sings on the Mountain” by Miyuki Jane Pinckard, narrated by the author.

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

Links to Miyuki Jane Pinckard Online

Major category: 
Saturday, October 29, 2022 - 07:00

In his summing up, the lawyer switches tactics somewhat, bringing a new argument: that the acceptance, validation, and certification of Grandjean as a man by the church and state authorities in Grenoble absolves Grandjean of guilt when they act in that capacity. This may have been a strategic add-on by the lawyer, fearful that the judge might not be sympathetic to an argument based on the problem of categorizing intersex persons. But there is also a ring of truth to it. Regardless of the basis for Grandjean's original appeal to their confessor for advice, if all the authority figures in your life are telling you to trans gender, and supporting you when you have done so, there will be pressure to comply. Whether that compliance was eager and enthusiastic or reluctant and bewildered, one can't really accuse Grandjean of being "transgressive" in this context. Rather the opposite. As an appeal for pardon and leniency, it ought by rights to carry a lot of weight.

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.

Evidence of Another Kind

Mais nous avons annoncé des preuves d'un autre genre.

But we have announced evidence of another kind.

A quatorze ans Anne Grandjean a pris des habits d'homme, & quitté ceux de fille qu'il avoit portés jusqu'alors. Cette métamorphose s'est faite sous les yeux même de son pere, dans sa maison, & d'après l'avis du Confesseur. Le pere d'Anne Grandjean croyoit donc que le véritable sexe de son enfant étoit le sexe masculine: toute la ville de Grenoble le croyoit aussi. Telle étoit l'opinion des Magistrats de Police de cette Ville, qui n'auroient pas souffert ce changement d'habits, s'ils eussent pensé qu'il y eût eu travestissement. Anne Grandjean regardé comme garçon par tout le monde, n'étoit plus employé qu'aux ouvrages qui appartiennent au sexe mafculin, & la force de son tempérament les lui rendoit faciles.

At the age of fourteen, Anne Grandjean took on the clothes of a man, and left those of a girl that he had worn until then. This metamorphosis took place under the eyes of zir father, in his house, and according to the advice of the Confessor. Anne Grandjean's father therefore believed that the true sex of his child was male: the whole city of Grenoble believed it too. Such was the opinion of the Magistrates of Police of this City, who would not have suffered this change of clothes, if they had thought that there had been transvestism. Anne Grandjean, regarded as a boy by everyone, was no longer employed in anything but the works that belong to the male sex, and the strength of zir temperament made them easy for zem.

{HRJ: This is rather circular reasoning. Clearly Grandjean underwent social transition to a man, but the rest of this is argument by authority. “People wouldn’t have gone along with it if they hadn’t believed Grandjean was male, therefore Grandjean must have been male.” But even throughout this passage, the emphasis is on belief: “believed…opinion…regarded as.” And we circle back to the details given for that social transition, which nowhere mention physiology as being brought in evidence. Everything hinges on the priest requiring and allowing Grandjean to become a man. And everyone else in Grenoble seems to have taken the priest’s authority for it. If Grandjean is viewed as a trans man, this is a rather amazingly positive experience, and the potential for such recognition to happen is significant for the time. This is why I believe that Grandjean's story is, in many ways, a trans story, regardless of Grandjean's own internal motivation and gender identity. But I keep coming back to the point that Grandjean’s communication to the priest was “I desire women” not “I am a man.” There’s another significant contradiction here. If Grandjean’s original social transition had involved a physiological examination, then there would have been no reason for Grandjean and Lambert’s later confusion and concern over the question of their sex. If there had been a physiological examination, then either Grandjean’s anatomy would have been identified as female (per the initial conclusion in Lyon) and the transition rejected, or Grandjean’s anatomy would have been identified as ambiguous (per the narrator’s later claim) and either accepted as male (in which case no reason for later concern) or recognized as intersex with that becoming a topic in the record and likely a reason to prohibit the marriage. So it seems reasonable to conclude that there was no examination in Grenoble and therefore the acceptance of Grandjean as male by the people of Grenoble was based entirely on the priest’s opinion regarding Grandjean’s appropriate categorization.}

Il y a plus: Anne Grandjean, peu de tems après son mariage, prie son pere de vouloir bien le mettre hors de sa puissance, ce pere y consent; dans l'acte fait devant le Magistrat, il le nomme son fils; il lui donne le nom de Jean-Baptiste, comme pour rectifier l'erreur qui s'étoit glissée dans l'acte bapistaire. Anne Grandjean reçoit la plénitude des droits du citoyen, en qualité d'homme & de mari; le Juge ratifie tous ses pouvoirs du sceau de son autorité.

There is more: Anne Grandjean, shortly after zir marriage, asked zir father to put him out of his power, this father consented; in the act made before the Magistrate, he named him his son; he gave zem the name of Jean-Baptiste, as if to rectify the error which had crept into the baptismal act. Anne Grandjean received the full rights of a citizen, as a man and as a husband; the Judge ratified all his powers with the seal of his authority.

{HRJ: As above, this is an astounding (for the time) recognition of social transition. And the implication is that it would be unthinkable for a magistrate to have participated in this re-naming and re-classification if it weren’t “true”. But that unthinkableness doesn’t make it evidence of Grandjean’s sex or gender. In some ways, this argument doesn't even need to imply that the lawyer considered it implausible that all the authorities in Grenoble must have been certain of Grandjean's physiological sex. The argument is equally useful if it is urging the appeal court not to contradict and undermine the structures of official authority (both church and state) in Grenoble, regardless of the factual correctness of their belief. That is, an argument that it's more important to preserve the illusion of governmental competence than to discern "truth." But I may be stretching things in this interpretation.}

Ainsi l'erreur de Grandjean étoit une erreur commune à tout le monde; si elle est criminelle, il faudroit donc s'en prendre à tous: car c'est cette erreur publique qui a affermi la consiance de l'Accusé. Disons mieux, c'est elle-aujourd'hui qui le justifie; la nature seule est en défaut dans cette affaire, & comment pouvoir rendre l'Accusé garant des torts de la nature ?

Thus, Grandjean's error was a mistake common to everyone; if it is criminal, it should therefore be blamed on everyone: for it is this public error that has strengthened the defendant's confidence. Better said, it is this error which today justifies him; nature alone is at fault in this matter, and how can the accused be made guarantor of the wrongs of nature?

{HRJ: Here the narrator weakens the legal argument while strengthening my point that this section is about Grandjean’s social categorization. The re-categorization by Grandjean’s parents, the priest, and the people and magistrates of Grenoble is not factual evidence of Grandjean’s sex/gender, but is an argument that Grandjean cannot be held at fault if they believed that they had genuinely been legally and socially re-categorized as male and authorized to marry a woman.}

Aujourd'hui que ses yeux sont ouverts sur son sort, n'est-il pas assez malheureux de se connoître sans que le bras de la Justice s'appesantisse encore sur lui? Individu jetté comme au hasard sur la terre, condamné à vivre dans la solitude au milieu même de la société; étranger en quelque sorte à l'un & l'autre sexe, puisqu'il est imparfait dans tous les deux; ne pouvant désormais avoir ni compagnon ni compagne de son sort; chargé seul du poids de la vie & de son infortune, comment le premier Juge à-t-il pu le traiter avec autant de rigueur; le mettre au rang des infames, lui dont les mœurs ont toujours été pures & la conduite honnête; l'exposer au mépris du Public, attaché à un pilori avec l'indice de la profanation; lui dont la bonne foi & l’innocence se trouvent ici juftifiées à chaque pas; le bannir enfin de son pays comme un citoyen dangereux, lui dont personne ne s'est jamais plaint, & qui n'a démérité vis-à-vis de qui que ce soit?

Now that zir eyes are open to zir fate, is he not unfortunate enough to know zemself without the arm of Justice still being brought to bear on zem? An individual thrown as if at random on the earth, condemned to live in solitude in the very midst of society; a stranger, as it were, to both sexes, since he is imperfect in both; henceforth able to have neither male-companion nor female-companion of zir fate; burdened alone with the weight of life and of zir misfortune, how could the first Judge have treated him with such rigor; to put him in the rank of infamous people, he whose morals have always been pure and whose conduct honest; to expose zem to the contempt of the public, tied to a pillory with the index of profanation; he whose good faith and innocence are here justified at every step; to banish him from his country as a dangerous citizen, he of whom no one has ever complained, and who has never been demerited by anyone?

{HRJ: The narrator is once again ramping up the sympathetic rhetoric. And here the basis of the argument is specifically that Grandjean is intersex, “a stranger to both sexes.” While we should keep open the possibility that this is a correct diagnosis, we also need to remember that this is the very narrow path by which Grandjean may be pardoned: i.e., that there was both a physical and psychological basis for acting within a male social and legal role. Would the justices have been open to the argument that Grandjean naively accepted the priest’s re-categorization in the absence of ambiguous physiology? Hard to guess.}

Ce Jugement rapproché du tems où les Romains, encore barbares, jettoient les hermaphrodites dans la mer, eût été plus facile à justifier; mais nous sommes gouvernés par des Loix fondées sur l'humanité & la justice. L'Accusé, réclame leur secours, dans un Tribunal souverain qui en est le dépositaire; il attend avec impatience l'Arrêt qui le déchargera de l'opprobre, & qui lui rendra la liberté.

This judgment, brought closer to the time when the Romans, still barbarians, threw hermaphrodites into the sea, would have been easier to justify; but we are governed by laws founded on humanity and justice. The accused claims their help, in a sovereign Court which is the depository of them; he waits impatiently for the Ruling which will relieve him of opprobrium, and which will give him back his freedom.

Monsieur DE GLATIGNY, Rapporteur.

Me. VERMEIL, Avocat.

Mr. DE GLATIGNY, Rapporteur.

Mr. VERMEIL, Lawyer.

Time period: 
Event / person: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 07:00

Today's argumentation comes to the heart, not only of the lawyer's argument, but of the difficulty in determining the emotional and conceptual facts of Grandjean's experience. We cannot entirely trust the details of the lawyer's "facts" precisely because one particular version of the facts is essential for the successful argumentation of the case. And even in the structure of his presentation--whether he intended to be ambiguous or not--we can see the logical holes, given our context of being able to envision a greater range of possible identities. These details aren't always included in the brief summaries of this case in general works on the study of gender and sexuality, and knowing them validates the effort put into working through the original text, even with its limitations.

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.

Third Issue


Bonne foi de l'Accusé.


Good faith of the accused.

Il faut commencer par partir d'un point fixe; c'est que la mauvaise foi ne se présume pas, que la Justice suppose toujours l'innocence, & que pour condamner; il faut avoir contre l'Accusé des preuves de conviction.

We must begin by starting from a fixed point; it is that bad faith cannot be presumed, that Justice always assumes innocence, and that in order to convict, it is necessary to have proof of conviction against the accused.

{HRJ: This is an admirable legal principle, though one wonders whether it was adhered to regularly at this point.}

Or ici point de preuve de mauvaise foi contre l'Accusé; au contraire, sa bonne foi résulte du concours de plusieurs circonstances, les prises dans le physique, & les autres dans le moral.

But here there is no proof of bad faith against the accused; on the contrary, zir good faith results from the combination of several circumstances, some of which are physical, others moral.

Dans le phisique, en voici le développement.

Regarding the physical, here is the development.

1°. De tous les attributs de la masculinité, il n'en manque qu'un seul à l'Accusé, ainsi qu'on le peut voir par le détail que nous avons donné ci-dessus; attribut qui existe moins dans l'organisation extérieure, que dans le jeu des resorts internes, propres à l'expulsion du fluide, fans lequel toutes les autres parties ne peuvent servir à la propagation. L'Accusé n'étoit rien moins que philosophe, il ne connoissoit son état que par l'impulsion de la nature; & la nature, en lui faisant sentir des besoins, ne lui découvroit pas tous ses secrets. Quoiqu'il fût, lors de son mariage, âgé de vingt-huit années, l'expérience de la débauche ne l'avoit point éclairé; né dans la pauvreté, élevé & nourri chez son pere, ses momens étoient remplis le plus souvent par un travail nécessaire; ses moeurs étoient simples & son esprit borné.

1. Of all the attributes of masculinity, the Accused lacks only one, as can be seen from the detail we have given above; an attribute which exists less in the external organization, than in the play of the internal springs, suitable for the expulsion of the fluid, without which all the other parts cannot serve for propagation. The accused was nothing of a philosopher; he knew his state only by the impulse of nature; and nature, in making him feel the need, did not discover {or perhaps: "reveal"} all his secrets. Although he was, at the time of his marriage, twenty-eight years old, the experience of debauchery had not enlightened him; born in poverty, brought up and nourished by his father, his moments were filled most often by necessary work; his morals were simple and his mind limited.

{HRJ:Notice the “clockwork” model of biology in the reference “the play of the internal springs.” The narrator is making a bold claim in suggesting that the only thing standing in the way of Grandjean being able to function fully as a man in society is the inability to ejaculate. While I’m picking on details, I’m going to point out an possibly ironic word choice. When the narrator says that Grandjean wasn’t a “philosophe,” was he doing so in awareness that “philosophe” had become a slang term associated with libertine literature? (As in the pornographic novel Thérèse Philosophe, published 1748, which has a lesbian encounter.) So, was he not merely saying “Grandjean isn’t a sophisticated scholarly thinker” but also saying “Grandjean isn’t a sexual libertine?” He says that Grandjean had not experienced “debauchery” but perhaps we should recall that Grandjean and Lambert enjoyed “familiarities” before marriage (not uncommon, to be sure).  There certainly seems to be a connection being made here between “simple-minded, hard-working, and poor” and “moral, uncorrupted, and sincere.” There’s a lot of spin going on here. “Born in poverty” doesn’t fit solidly with the narrative of Grandjean gaining access to their finances and going into business with their wife. Not rich, certainly, but not poor. This looks like the creation of a useful myth. It's also worth pointing out that in arguing that Grandjean was acting "only by the impulse of nature," the lawyer is coming oh-so-close to the idea that same-sex desire might also be an "impulse of nature," and that such an impulse might justify behavior. "Born that way" as it were. But let us not attribute to the lawyer a more enlightened position than he presents. The fixation here is on binary gender, heteronormativity, and procreation as the central goal of sexual relationships, as we see in the following.}

2°. Ce qui aux yeux de l'Accusé caractérisoit son sexe de maniere à ne lui point laisser de doute, c'est cette indifférence qu'il avoit pour les hommes, cette ardeur dont il se sentoit embrasé près des femmes, le développement qu'il éprouvoit en leur présence & dans le desir de leurs caresses. La partie d'organisation qui chez lui appartient à la femme, existoit là, comme par un oubli de la nature; il n'avoit point éprouvé ces tems périodiques qui annoncent qu'une jeune fille devient propre à la fécondité; il n'auroit pu penser à se marier comme femme, tout lui faisoit croire au contraire, qu'il étoit en état de se choisir une compagne en qualité d'homme.

2. What in the eyes of the accused characterized his sex in such a way as to leave him no doubt, was this indifference which he had for men, this ardor with which he felt himself inflamed near women, the development which he experienced in their presence & in the desire for their caresses. The part of the organization which in him belongs to the woman, existed there, as if by an oversight of nature; he had not experienced those periodic times which announce that a young girl becomes suitable for fecundity; he could not have thought of marrying as a woman, everything made him believe, on the contrary, that he was in a position to choose a companion as a man.

{HRJ: Once again the narrator is spinning the start of Grandjean’s transgression in a heteronormative, gender-essentialist manner. “Grandjean believed he was a man because he was sexually indifferent to men and desired women.” Except that isn’t the story that was told about Grandjean’s adolescence. Grandjean didn’t go to their confessor and say, “I think I’m a man,” they said, “I like girls.” And I return to noting how very late in this process comes the suggestion that Grandjean did not experience menses. It's certainly possible that this came out in the course of the Lyon trial, but in general the narrator went into great detail about Grandjean's early life and experiences. I do think the omission of details from that early story--that are then raised laster--is meaningful. The narrator is picking and choosing Grandjean’s purported physical characteristics to emphasize those that support his goal. We don't know that Grandjean came to this conclusion about their gender based on their desire, only that the lawyer asserts this as an argument. This is, of course, the lawyer’s job. And his success would have significant consequences for Grandjean. But it gets in the way of trying to understand Grandjean as a person from a historic distance.}

3°. Il n'a point voulu tromper celle qu'il a associée à son sort; son amour, qu'elle partageoit, lui avoit donné des droits sur elle avant qu'il eût le titre d'époux: elle savoit ce qu'il étoit, elle n'en desiroit pas d'avantage: elle étoit sans doute dans la même erreur que lui. Cette erreur, si l'on en croit sa déposition, a continué pendant trois ans après son mariage; & le récit qu'elle fait des caresses de son époux, ne sert qu'à justifier l'illusion commune.

3. He did not want to deceive the one he associated with zir fate; zir love, which she shared, had given zem rights over her before he had the title of husband: she knew what he was, she did not want more: she was undoubtedly in the same error as zem. This error, if we are to believe her deposition, continued for three years after her marriage; and the account she gives of her husband's caresses serves only to justify the common illusion.

{HRJ: If we untangle the poetically vague language here, the argument seems to be “Grandjean had no intent to deceive Lambert, and since they’d shared “intimacies” prior to marriage, Lambert had knowledge of Grandjean’s body when she agreed to the marriage. And Lambert enjoyed sexual relations with Grandjean for three years after the marriage. Therefore Lambert must also have believed Grandjean to be male. The flaw in this logical chain is the assumption that Lambert could not possibly have loved, enjoyed sex with, and been willing to be married to, another woman.” If that assumption is wrong, then this “evidence” regarding Grandjean’s gender (whether we’re talking gender identity or physiology) is meaningless. Does the narrator genuinely believe that it’s not possible for a woman to desire another woman? Or is this simply the most useful argumentation? It’s unclear how much the narrator actually interacted with Lambert directly. And regardless of what Lambert actually thought, keep in mind that she had strong motivation to claim that she believed Grandjean to be a man, once the matter became public.}

L'Accusé étoit donc dans la bonne foi au tems de son mariage.

The accused was therefore in good faith at the time of zir marriage.

{HRJ: The fact that this is the bedrock of the narrator’s legal argument, is exactly what makes it subject to scrutiny.}

Time period: 
Event / person: 
Monday, October 24, 2022 - 07:00

This is the true heart of the lawyer's case: that Grandjean genuinely believed--on whatever basis--that they were able and authorized to take on the role of husband in a marriage. Although the lawyer brings in anatomy as part of the basis for that  belief, it isn't in fact necessary for the argument to prevail. This is where the specific charge (profanation of the sacrament of marriage) is key to Grandjean's acquittal, because it's the only one that can be refuted.

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.

Second Issue

On l'accuse d'avoir profané le Sacrement de mariage. Il ne l'a pas profané, s'il étoit de bonne foi: c'est le second objet que nous nous étions proposé de démontrer.

Zie is accused of having profaned the Sacrament of Marriage. He did not profane it, if he was in good faith: this is the second point we set out to demonstrate.


Point de profanation si l'Accusé étoit dans la bonne foi.


No profanation if the accused was in good faith.

{HRJ: This is, in fact, the strongest point of the lawyer’s argument. That “profanation” requires intent to profane, and that Grandjean clearly did not have that intent. I’m going to have little commentary on this next section because the narrator lays it out very clearly.}

Nous nous occupons uniquement ici d'un point de Droit sur lequel nous ne prévoyons pas de difficulté sérieuse.

We are dealing here only with a point of law on which we do not foresee any serious difficulty.

Pour remplir notre objet avec exactitude, il faut voir d'abord ce que c'est que profaner le Sacrement de mariage, & nous verrons ensuite si l'on peut dire que celui qui le contracte dans la bonne foi, en soit profanateur.

To fulfill our purpose accurately, we must first see what it is to desecrate the Sacrament of Marriage, and then we will see whether one who contracts it in good faith can be said to be a profaner.

Profaner le Sacrement de mariage, c'est en abuser: on peut en abuser de trois manieres; ou parce qu'on n'est pas libre, ou parce qu'on n'est pas capable, ou parce qu'on use mal de sa capacité,

To profane the sacrament of marriage is to abuse it: one can abuse it in three ways; either because one is not free, or because one is not capable, or because one misuses one's capacity,

Nous disons d'abord qu'on abuse du Sacrement de mariage, quand on le contracte sans avoir la liberté de le faire.

We say first of all that the Sacrament of Marriage is abused when one contracts it without having the freedom to do so.

Le maríage, chez les Peuples sauvages, est une union sujette au caprice, & dont les liens peuvent être aussi facilement détruits que formés. Chez plusieurs Peuples policés, mais qui ne jouissent pas du précieux avantage d'être éclairés par les lumieres de la Foi; c'est un contrat civil qui peut être résolu dans les cas prévus par les Loix. Chez une Nation chrétienne & catholique, il est contrat civil & Sacrement tout ensemble, écrit dans le Ciel & sur la terre; c'est le symbole de l'union de Jesus-Christ avec l'Eglise: il est indissoluble, individual, & le lien formé par lui ne peut être rompu que par la mort.

Marriage, among savage peoples, is a union subject to caprice, and whose bonds may be as easily destroyed as formed. Among many civilized peoples, but who do not enjoy the precious advantage of being enlightened by the lights of the Faith, it is a civil contract which can be resolved in the cases provided for by the Laws. In a Christian and Catholic Nation, it is a civil contract and a sacrament at the same time, written in Heaven and on earth; it is the symbol of the union of Jesus Christ with the Church: it is indissoluble, individual, and the bond formed by it can only be broken by death.

{HRJ: Oh dear. He’s getting his rhetoric on again.}

Une conséquence naturelle résulte de ces principes: c'est que parmi nous, les hommes ou les femmes qui sont mariés, ne peuvent pas contracter valablement un second mariage du vivant de leurs femmes ou de leurs maris: s'ils le font avec la pleine certitude que leur chaîne subsiste, ils abusent du Sacrement, & méritent des peines.

A natural consequence follows from these principles: it is that among us, men or women who are married cannot validly contract a second marriage during the lifetime of their wives or husbands: if they do so with the full certainty that their chain will remain, they are abusing the Sacrament, and deserve punishment.

{HRJ: "Their chain" meaning "the bond, the contract, the thing that binds them." This bullet point is talking about bigamy, which is not relevant to Grandjean's situation, but is part of the lawyer gradually building his case.}

Nous avons dit, en second lieu, qu'on pouvoit abuser du Sacrement par le défaut de capacité. Le mariage est établi pour donner des citoyens à la Patrie & des habitans à l'Univers; il faut donc, pour le contracter valablement, être capable de remplir son objet. Le défaut de capacité peut avoir deux causes différentes; celle qui naît de la frigidité, de l'innertie de l'homme; ou celle qui nait d'un vice d'organisation, soit dans l'homme, soit dans la femme: ainsi quiconque se croit inhabile à remplir le vœu du mariage, doit s'abstenir d'un engagement dont la sainteté  seroit par lui profanée.

Secondly, we have said that the Sacrament can be abused through lack of capacity. Marriage is established to give citizens to the country and inhabitants to the universe; it is therefore necessary, in order to contract it validly, to be capable of fulfilling its purpose. Lack of capacity may have two different causes: that which arises from frigidity, from the innertness of the man; or that which arises from a defect of organization, either in the man or in the woman: thus anyone who believes himself unfit to fulfill the vow of marriage must abstain from a commitment whose sanctity would be profaned by him.

{HRJ: This is an argument that people were still making in regard to same-sex marriage in 21st century USA—that the essential purpose of marriage is procreation, and that lack of the ability to procreate, whether for psychological or physiological reasons, means one should be barred from marriage. But, of course, as argued in the 21st century, that principle was not typically used to bar male-female couples from marrying—for example oi the woman were past childbearing age—if there were no other issues.}

Enfin on peut encore abuser du Sacrement & de l'état du mariage, en usant mal de sa capacité. L'attrait du plaisir rapproche deux époux, & de leur union doit résulter un nouvel étre; la nature sur cette union a prescrit des regles, & l'instinct seul suffit pour nous mettre en état de les suivre. Si ces regles sont violées, si l'un des deux époux ou tous les deux à-la-fois préferent le plaisir au devoir, quand ils peuvent réunir l'un & l'autre; s'ils usent des organes de la volupté d'une maniere contraire à leur destination, c'est un tort envers la Patrie, qui leur demande des citoyens; c'est un larcin qu'ils font à la Nature, c'est un crime aux yeux de son Auteur.

Finally, the Sacrament and the state of marriage can still be abused by misusing its capacity. The attraction of pleasure brings two spouses together, and from their union must result a new being; nature has prescribed rules for this union, and instinct alone is sufficient to put us in a position to follow them. If these rules are violated, if one or both of the spouses prefer pleasure to duty, when they can unite the one and the other; if they use the organs of voluptuousness in a manner contrary to their purpose, it is a wrong to the Fatherland, which requires citizens of them; it is a petty theft that they make from Nature, it is a crime in the eyes of its Author.

{HRJ: So, in other words, if you get married and plan to have a good time, sexually, but avoid anything that could result in pregnancy, then you’re abusing the sacrament of marriage. This was a significant dividing point between Catholic views of marriage and some Protestant views, which allowed for a chaste companionate marriage, if the participants were so inclined, or allowed for non-procreative sex as an activity that helped bind the couple emotionally. But we see here an inkling of the view of “procreation as patriotism” that would emerge in the early 19th century in both France and England. It's unclear whether the lawyer is allowing for some non-procreative activity within a marriage, as long as procreation is also a goal, or whether each sex act is evaluated on this basis.}

Dans cette derniere espece il n'y a point d'excuse, & les époux ne sauroient dire qu'ils sont de bonne foi.

In this latter case there is no excuse, and the spouses cannot say that they are acting in good faith.

Mais il n'en est pas de même des deux précédentes.

But this is not the case with the two preceding ones.

{HRJ: That is, there are cases (which the narrator is about to discuss) where someone might be not free, or not capable of marriage and unaware of it, but not where someone might be in it purely for non-procreative pleasure and not aware of it.}

Celui qui croit être libre au moment où il contracte & qui ne l'est pas, ne profane point le Sacrement; son erreur peut avoir une cause légitime. Un volcan qui renverse une ville ou qui l'engloutit, un champ de bataille couvert de morts, un vaisseau abymé dans la profondeur des mers, voilà des causes propres à justifier l'erreur. Si le mari habitoit la ville engloutie, s'il étoit dans les troupes qui ont soutenu le choc du combat, ou dans le vaisseau qui a péri dans l'onde, & que depuis un tems considérable son épouse n'en ait point eu de nouvelles, elle aura des raisons suffisantes pour le croire mort, elle pourra contracter un engagement nouveau. Cet époux vient-il par la suite à réparoitre, le second mariage sera déclaré nul; mais la femme n'aura pas profané le Sacrement, parce qu'elle étoit dans la bonne foi.

He who believes himself to be free at the moment he contracts & who is not, does not profane the Sacrament; his error may have a legitimate cause. A volcano which overturns a city or engulfs it, a battlefield covered with dead, a ship sunk in the depths of the sea, these are all causes which may justify the error. If the husband lived in the sunken city, if he was among the troops who sustained the shock of the battle, or in the ship that perished in the waves, and if his wife has not heard from him for a considerable time, she will have sufficient reason to believe that he is dead, and she will be able to enter into a new engagement. If the husband subsequently dies, the second marriage will be declared null and void, but the wife will not have profaned the Sacrament because she was in good faith.

{HRJ: This is making an interesting distinction between the legal and spiritual status of such a marriage. Bigamy is a legal matter and unaffected by intent. But profanation requires knowledge and intent.}

A Pari, si un homme se croit capable de remplir le vœu du mariage; si la nature, quelquefois sujette à des caprices, ne lui a pas fait éprouver cette langueur, cette frigidité, cette inertie perpétuelle que l'on nomme impuissance absolue, il peut se croire digne du Sacrement qu'il desire; & quand bien même après le mariage il se trouveroit inhabile, il n'est point profanateur; on ne peut le punir comme tel, sa bonne foi le justisie.

By analogy, if a man believes himself capable of fulfilling the vow of marriage; if nature, which is sometimes subject to caprices, has not made him experience that langor, that frigidity, that perpetual inertness which is called absolute impotence, he may believe himself worthy of the Sacrament he desires; and even if after marriage he finds himself unfit, he is not a profaner; he cannot be punished as such, since his good faith justifies him.

{HRJ: This argument could apply not simply with regard to impotence, but also with regard to fertility from various angles. Although the lawyer doesn't take this angle, it could apply in the case where Grandjean sincerely believed their confessor had the power and ability to change their sex, not simply to recategorize their gender. And whether or not Grandjean believed that, the argument could be presented in court as a strategy. This is, to some extent, what the lawyer does later when invoking the initial legal and social recognition of Grandjean's recategorization.}

Enfin, pour rentrer dans notre espece, si un individu tel quell conçoit un violent amour pour une fille, s'il éprouve à son a approche des sensations vives, avec un développement d'organes qui ne se rencontre point dans les femmes s'il eft froid & tranquille auprès des hommes; si ces organes développés lui présentent les attributs de la masculinité; si dans l'usage antérieur qu'il en a pu fạire, elles ont produit la même sensation chez la femme, alors cet individu, qui n'est point obligé d'être 'naturaliste, aura raison sans doute de se croire appellé au mariage en qualité d’homme; & quand une experience plus longue & des lumieres plus sûres viendront après son mariage lui faire connoître quelque vice d'organisation dans sa personne, on ne pourra pas dire sans doute qu'il ait profané le Sacrement, parce que lorsqu'il a contracté, ses intentions étoient pures, & sa bonne foi non équivoque.

Finally, to return to our category [of hermaphrodite], if an individual such as this conceives a violent love for a girl, if he experiences at her approach vivid sensations, with a development of organs which is not found in women if he is cold & quiet around men; if these developed organs present him with the attributes of masculinity; if in the previous use he may have made of them, they have produced the same sensation in women, then this individual, who is not obliged to be a naturalist [i.e., a biologist, a scientist], will be justified without doubt in believing himself called to marriage in the capacity of a man; & when longer experience & surer lights come after his marriage to make him aware of some defect of organization in his person, it will not be possible to say without doubt that he has profaned the Sacrament, because when he contracted, his intentions were pure, & his good faith unequivocal.

{HRJ: Once again, the narrator is fixated on the idea that the polarity of desire defines gender identity. If Grandjean experiences sexual arousal toward women and is sexually indifferent toward men, this validates the assumption of male identity. It isn’t simply that the narrator believes this proves Grandjean to be essentially male, but that it can be argued as a rational basis for Grandjean to believe themselves male.}

En un mot, la profanation est un crime; point de crime sans la volonté de le commettre; point de volonté de le commettre, si celui qui épouse est dans la bonne foi.

In a word, profanation is a crime; no crime without the will to commit it; no will to commit it, if the one who marries is in good faith.

Mais pouvons-nous dire que l'Accusé fût dans la bonne foi au tems de son marriage? C'est le point de fait qui nous reste maintenant à discuter.

But can we say that the accused was in good faith at the time of his marriage? This is the point of fact which remains for us to discuss.

{HRJ: One has to pause in admiration at the way Grandjean’s lawyer is constructing his case.}

Time period: 
Event / person: 
Friday, October 21, 2022 - 07:00

Another day of posting in haste, so no detailed introduction. Now that my mornings occasionally include a communte once more, my morning writing time is curtailed. Posting this only by virtue of the miracle of phone-tethering!

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 - Grandjean’s Anatomy

Il est donc important ici de le faire connoître dans le détail; mais comme cette description peut tomber entre les mains de personnes dont nous craindrions d'alarmer la pudeur, nous croyons par délicatesse devoir nous servir d'une langue moins familiere.

It is thus important here to make it known in detail; but as this description can fall into the hands of people whose modesty we would fear to alarm, we believe by delicacy to have to use a less familiar language.

{HRJ: The narrator is now going to go into more detail, but will preserve the casual reader’s modesty and sensibilities by moving into Latin. This was primarily intended to prevent women, as a class, from reading about sexual matters, as a Latin education was primarily available only to men.}

Intrà pudendi labra suprà meatum urinarium, carnosa quædam moles inspicitur speciem virilis membri præ se ferens, sese arrigens cum delectatione in conspectu feminæ, & firma stans in coïtu; crassitudine digiti cùm arrecta eft & extensa, longitudine quinque transversorum digitorum quantitate: in summitate mentulæ vel membri virilis apparet glans cum præputio, sed non eft glans perforata, ideoque nullum semen per hanc emitti potest. Infrà mentulam & in orificio vulvæ ambo apparent globuli testiculorum ad instar; exiguum autem est vulvæ orficium penè digitum admittens, nec per hanc menstrua fluunt, nec ullâ sensatione jucundâ commovetur, nec semine feminino irrigatur.

Intrà pudendi labra suprà meatum urinarium, carnosa quædam moles inspicitur speciem virilis membri præ se ferens, sese arrigens cum delectatione in conspectu feminæ, & firma stans in coïtu; crassitudine digiti cùm arrecta eft & extensa, longitudine quinque transversorum digitorum quantitate: in summitate mentulæ vel membri virilis apparet glans cum præputio, sed non eft glans perforata, ideoque nullum semen per hanc emitti potest. Infrà mentulam & in orificio vulvæ ambo apparent globuli testiculorum ad instar; exiguum autem est vulvæ orficium penè digitum admittens, nec per hanc menstrua fluunt, nec ullâ sensatione jucundâ commovetur, nec semine feminino irrigatur.

{HRJ: Ready for some Latin sex talk? Here we go. “Between the labia, above the urinary meatus, a certain fleshy mass is seen before it, bearing the appearance of a male member, erecting itself with delight in the presence of a woman and standing firm in coitus;” (Anatomists had “discovered” the clitoris a century earlier and regularly described it in terms of analogy to the penis.) “…it is the thickness of a finger when it is raised and extended, the length of five transverse fingers” (I interpret this as “a handsbreadth in length.” And these dimensions are definitely outside the typical for female anatomy, although not outside the descriptions sometimes found in medical literature.) “on the top of the penis or male member appear a glans with a foreskin, but the glans is not perforated” (i.e., it has no opening) “therefore no semen can be sent through it. Under the penis and at the opening of the vulva both…” (I feel like this is aiming for “on either side of the opening of the vulva?”) “…appear like the balls of the testicles; and the opening of the vulva is small, barely admitting a finger,” (That’s within typical size for someone who is not actively engaging in penetrative sex.) “the menses does not flow through it, nor is it moved by any pleasant sensation…” (Look, buddy, if a bunch of stranger doctors were sticking their fingers up my virginal orifice, I don’t think I’d find it very “moving” either! But this is the first suggestion that Grandjean was amenorrheic. One might think their mother would have noticed.) “…nor is it irrigated with female seed.” (Evidently 18th century sexual theory accepted female ejaculation?)

{On the face of it, this description very solidly falls in one type of intersex category. The literature on “hermaphrodites” cited by the narrator would have included both descriptions and illustrations of people with similar anatomy. As I noted in my commentary, several of the descriptions are in line with typical female anatomy. And it seems a bit implausible that a panel of surgeons in Lyon could have examined someone with this appearance and concluded that Grandjean’s “predominant sex was that of a woman.” But perhaps so. The case of Thomas/ina Hall in Virginia a century earlier details the confusion of the legal system when faced with someone who had a small penis, but one not capable of penetrative sex, and (probably) a very small vaginal opening, but not one capable of receiving penetrative sex. But it seems suspiciously convenient that Grandjean’s anatomy only comes into the question when their lawyer is trying to find arguments that Grandjean could reasonably enter into a valid marriage with a woman. Grandjean did not go to their confessor and say, “Um…I think maybe I have a penis?” I don’t think we can entirely reject the possibility that Grandjean was intersex, perhaps one of the conditions such as XY-androgen insensitivity, in which masculinized anatomy develops later in life. But I keep coming back to the point that the turning point for Grandjean's life was sexual desire, not anatomy or gender dysphoria.}

Quoique d'après ce détail l'hermaphrodite dont il s'agit ici soit constitué de manière à être indifférent pour les hommes, & que tous ses desirs, ainsi que ses facultés, le portent du côté de la femme, cette faculté néanmoins est imparfaite, & la nature, dans l'un & l'autre sexe, lui a refusé le pouvoir de se reproduire.

Although, according to this detail, the hermaphrodite in question is constituted in such a way as to be indifferent to men, and that all his desires, as well as his faculties, lead him to the side of the woman, this faculty is nevertheless imperfect, and nature, in both sexes, has denied him the power to reproduce.

{HRJ: The narrator, like Grandjean’s confessor, takes “indifference to men” and “desire for women” as a clear indication of masculine identity. And this, I feel, is the key element in the entire story. The idea of a woman desiring a woman is so far outside what they are willing to accept, that they need for Grandjean to be a man in order to erase that spectre. Now maybe Grandjean was intersex. Maybe Grandjean was trans. But that’s not what’s motivating these men with power over their life--what motivates them is complete repudiation of the idea of female same-sex desire.}

Ajoutons que tout son ensemble paroît être un mêlange de deux sexes dans la même imperfection. L'accusé n'a point de barbe, mais il a les jambes velues, & plusieurs autres parties du corps, qui ne sont point telles ordinairement chez les femmes.

Let us add that his whole body seems to be a mixture of two sexes in the same imperfection. The accused has no beard, but he has hairy legs and several other parts of his body that are not usually found on women.

Il a de la gorge plus qu'un homme n'en a communément; mais elle n'est point délicate & sensible aux coups, comme celle des femmes: il en a fait l'expérience devant nous.

He has more throat than a man usually has; but it is not delicate and sensitive to blows, like that of women: he experienced this before us.

Ses mammelons, si l'on consulte leur grosseur, appartiennent au sexe féminin; mais on n'y voit point ce cercle d'un rouge obscur au milieu duquel ils se trouvent placés chez les femmes.

Zir mammaries, if one consults their size, belong to the female sex; but one does not see there this circle of an obscure red in the middle of which they are placed in the women.

Sa voix n'est, à proprement parler, ni celle d'une femme, ni celle d'un homme; c'est celle d'un enfant mâle qui arrive à l'adolescence, & qui dans une espece d'enrouement rend des sons tantôt graves, tantôt aígus.

Zir voice is, strictly speaking, neither that of a woman nor that of a man; it is that of a male child who is reaching adolescence, and who in a kind of hoarseness makes sounds sometimes low, sometimes high.

{HRJ: All of the above is focused on the degree to which Grandjean conforms to a stereotypical idealized femininity. The deficiencies of feminiity—hairy legs and the ability to stand blows—are presented as more relevant that the absence of a beard, the presence of breasts (which could co-occur with XY-androgen insensitivity, but male-pattern hair growth does not), and a higher voice.}

Tel est l'hermaprhodite, qu'il étoit d'abord important de faire connoître, pour mieux assurer sa justification.

Such is the hermaphrodite, which it was first important to make known, to better ensure zir justification.

{HRJ: At this point, I should remind the reader I have something of a personal predisposition to view Grandjean as a woman who desires women, trapped in a world that doesn’t want to recognize that identity. This is my own bias, and much of the interest in Grandjean’s situation is entirely separate from the question of whether my view is true or not. Or whether it’s even meaningful within the context of Grandjean’s life. So let us proceed, operating on the presumption that the question is unresolved.}

Time period: 
Event / person: 
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.}

Time period: 
Event / person: 
Monday, October 17, 2022 - 08:00

Posting a bit in haste, as I need to run a meeting in a couple minutes. This section of the appeal record is most useful for understanding the lawyer's depth of familiarity with the literature. Which makes it all the more noteworthy when he carefully omits details that would undermine his arguments, as we'll see in the next installment.

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 Classical Background


Etat de l'Accusé.

Cet objet exige des détails que nous craindrions d'entreprendre, si la recherche de la vérité & l'amour de la justice n'ennoblissoient tous les sujets que l'on traite.


State of the Accused.

This object requires details that we would be afraid to undertake, if the search for truth and the love of justice did not ennoble all the subjects that we treat.

{HRJ: Once again, as we get close to sexual matters, the narrator gets apologetic, poetic, and coy.}

Le Créateur à imposé des Loix à la nature pour la production de l'espece humaine. Mais des sucs plus ou moins abondans, une impulfion plus ou moins prompte, une fermentation plus ou moins active, dérangent quelquefois l'ordre économique des productions & présentent à l'oeil curieux de l'observateur, différens phénomenes.

The Creator has imposed laws on nature for the production of the human race. But more or less abundant juices, a more or less rapid impulse, a more or less active fermentation, sometimes disturb the economic order of the productions and present to the curious eye of the observer, different phenomena.

{HRJ: The narrator is speaking in terms of the humoral theory of gender. This theory—tracing back to classical Greece—asserts that the physical manifestation of gender/sex is shaped and determined by the conditions in which the fetus develops. For more discussion on this, see the podcast Humors, Horoscopes, and Homosexuality. A fetus developed into a male by virtue of having certain humoral properties: heat, dryness, activity, and so forth. But—goes the theory—a fetus may begin developing in one direction, which fixes the anatomy, but then be subject to other influences which affect the personality and mental faculties, resulting in a masculine woman, a feminine man, or some other mixing of properties. This is the scenario that is being set up: the gender binary required “for the production of the human race” may be disturbed with unexpected results.}

Un hermaphrodite est peut-être le plus intéressant de tous. Dans ces tems reculés où la Philosophie étoit encore en son berceau, on les envisageoit comme des monstres; & sous les Consuls de l'ancienne Rome, un hermaphrodite étoit jetté dans la Mer, ou abandonné dans une isle déserte, ainsi que nous l'atteste Pline le Naturaliste. Natur. Histor. lib. 7, cap: 3.

A hermaphrodite is perhaps the most interesting of all. In those remote times when Philosophy was still in its cradle, they were regarded as monsters; and under the Consuls of ancient Rome, a hermaphrodite was thrown into the sea, or abandoned on a desert island, as Pliny the Naturalist attests. Natur. Histor. lib. 7, cap: 3.

{HRJ: The narrator is now going to show off his classical education. Pliny’s Natural History, book 7, chapter 3 is on the subject of “Marvelous Births.” (The translation here is courtesy of the website:,0978,001:7:3) The narrator is distorting the actual content somewhat, perhaps to suggest that France should be more humane than the ancients. Pliny has separate discussions of hermaphrodites “Individuals are occasionally born, who belong to both sexes; such persons we call by the name of hermaphrodites; they were formerly called Androgyni, and were looked upon as monsters, but at the present day they are employed for sensual purposes.”) and of persons who changed sex. In the discussion of the latter, there is indeed a reference to someone being taken to a desert island, but no reference to anyone being thrown into the sea. “The change of females into males is undoubtedly no fable. We find it stated in the Annals, that, in the consulship of P. Licinius Crassus and C. Cassius Longinus, a girl, who was living at Casinum with her parents, was changed into a boy; and that, by the command of the Aruspices, he was conveyed away to a desert island. Licinius Mucianus informs us, that he once saw at Argos a person whose name was then Arescon, though he had been formerly called Arescusa: that this person had been married to a man, but that, shortly after, a beard and marks of virility made their appearance, upon which he took to himself a wife. He had also seen a boy at Smyrna, to whom the very same thing had happened. I myself saw in Africa one L. Cossicius, a citizen of Thysdris, who had been changed into a man the very day on which he was married to a husband.” The exile to a deserted island, thus, was a precaution because the person was considered inauspicious, which state could come from any number of reasons, and not for the specific cause of being a hermaphrodite.}

Sous les Empereurs, l'humanité s'étendit avec les conquêtes, les préjugés s'évanouirent; & les Loix devinrent plus sages. Un hermaphrodite fut regardé comme une production extraordinaire, mais il ne parut pas mériter d'être retranché du rang des Citoyens; les Législateurs voulurent qu'on s'attachât à distinguer le sexe dominant chez lui, afin de lui assigner la place qui lui étoit propre dans la société. Quæritur hermaphroditum cui comparamus, & magis puto ejus sexûs estimandum qui in eo prævalet. L. 10 ad dig. de statu hominum.

Under the Emperors, humanity expanded with the conquests, prejudices disappeared, and the laws became wiser. A hermaphrodite was regarded as an extraordinary production, but he did not seem to deserve to be cut off from the rank of citizens; the legislators wanted to distinguish the dominant sex in him, in order to assign him the place that was proper to him in society. Quæritur hermaphroditum cui comparamus, & magis puto ejus sexûs estimandum qui in eo prævalet. L. 10 ad dig. de statu hominum.

{HRJ: The text quoted here appears to be from Justinian’s Corpus juris civilis, specifically the Digests, which is a compilation of extracts from prior legal treatises, organized by topic. This quote comes from the section entitled De statu hominum (concerning laws about people), attributed to Ulpian. “Quaeritur: hermaphroditum cui comparamus? et magis puto eius sexus aestimandum, qui in eo praevalet.” “Question: To whom do we compare the hermaphrodite? I think he should be evaluated as the sex which prevails in him.” In other words, a legal binary must be enforced, and each person assigned a gender. This is a regular theme in the legal treatment of intersex people in western history: philosophy might recognize indeterminate sex or a "third sex," but the law recognized only a binary and required everyone to be assigned to a category and not to move between categories.}

 La Loi régloit leur sort; mais la Philosophie chercha à les définir. Combien de systems, ouvrages de l'erreur n'a-t-on pas vu paroître sur cette matiere?

The Law regulated their fate; but Philosophy sought to define them. How many systems, works of error, have we not seen appear on this subject?

{HRJ: The narrator now asserts that the legally imposed binary may not be the only approach.}

Les sectateurs superstitieux de l'Astrologie judiciaire crurent pouvoir trouver dans les astres la cause de ce phénomene; suivant eux, la réunion de Venus & de Mercure dans le septieme signe du Zodiaque, en conjonction avec Mars, devoit faire naître un hermaphrodite: Si Mars his conciliatur conjunctione aut aspectu, facit hermaphroditos. Joannes Garcæus, cap. 16, de frigidio, &c.

The superstitious followers of Judicial Astrology believed they could find in the stars the cause of this phenomenon; according to them, the meeting of Venus & Mercury in the seventh sign of the Zodiac, in conjunction with Mars, should give birth to a hermaphrodite: Si Mars his conciliatur conjunctione aut aspectu, facit hermaphroditos. Joannes Garcæus, cap. 16, de frigidio, &c.

{HRJ: Once again, for background, I refer the reader to the podcast on astrology and humoral theory. Our narrator views the idea of astrological influences on gender to be superstition, though he wasn’t quite as censorious toward humoral influences. The quoted astrologer here is 16th century German Johannes Garcaeus, who writes “If Mars prevails in this conjunction or aspect, it creates hermaphrodites.”}

La raison se récria bientôt contre des opinions aussi chimériques; des observateurs voulurent porter le flambeau de la Physique jusques dans les entrailles d'une mere, examiner la formation du fœtus & ses accroissances, interroger la nature & lui demander raison de ses caprices: ils crurent appercevoir dans le mélange des liqueurs productives de l’homme & de la femme, & dans les accidens arrivés à ce mêlange, la cause du phénomène; combien d'Auteurs ont écrit sur cette matière, avec lesquels nous craindrions de nous égarer!*

{marginal note: * V. Averroès liv. 4, de generat. anim. Alpert le Grand, liv. 18, de animal.}

Reason soon rebelled against such chimerical opinions; observers wanted to carry the torch of Physics to the womb of a mother, to examine the formation of the fetus & its growths, to question nature & ask her for the reason of her caprices: They thought they could see in the mixture of the productive liquors of man and woman, and in the accidents that occurred in this mixture, the cause of the phenomenon; how many authors have written on this subject, with whom we would fear to stray! *

{marginal note: * V. Averroès liv. 4, de generat. anim. Alpert le Grand, liv. 18, de animal.}

{HRJ: Our narrator is waxing poetic again, touting the Age of Reason and its determination to find scientific explanations. The marginal note is not a manuscript annotation, but part of the print layout. The citations are of the commentary by 12th century Andalusian philosopher Averroes (Ibn Rushd) on Aristotle’s “De Generatione Animalium” (On the Generation of Animals). Presumably “book 4” refers to the 4th of 5 volumes of Aristotle’s work, which does discuss theories of sex determination. Alpert le Grand is presumably 13th century philosopher and theologian Albertus Magnus, De Animalibus (On Animals), which may well also be referencing Aristotle’s theories as Albertus was one of the major medieval transmission pathways for Aristotle’s works.}

Mais depuis a paru le systême des ovaires qui suppose le germe existant chez la femme avant que d'être fécondé par l'homme, & qui sembloit expliquer les opérations de la nature par des voies plus simples & plus générales; ce systeme a détruit tous les raisonnemens fondés sur le mélange des deux fluides sans donner une explication plus saine de la production dont on cherchoit à connoître le principe.

But since then the system of ovaries has appeared, which supposes the germ existing in the woman before being fertilized by the man, and which seemed to explain the operations of nature by simpler and more general ways; this system has destroyed all the reasonings founded on the mixture of the two fluids without giving a healthier explanation of the production of which one sought to know the principle.

{HRJ: And here’s where we know that our narrator has simply been showing off and establishing himself as a classical scholar. We can sweep away all that old superstition because anatomical studies have superseded them! I should be more fair to him, since this really was cutting-edge scientific knowledge. I’ll leave our narrator in peace to his flights of rhetoric in the next couple passages.}

Quant à nous nous ne pouvons qu'être surpris des efforts, de esprit humain, qui lutte sans cesse contre sa propre impuissance; il est des secrets qu'il ne nous appartient pas de découvrir.

As for us, we can only be surprised at the efforts of the human mind, which is constantly struggling against its own impotence; there are secrets which it is not our business to discover.

Le génie qui s'élance dans l'infini, qui mesure l'étendue des cieux, qui calcule les révolutions périodiques de ces globes roulans dans l'immensité de l'espace, qui, d'après des regles certaines, prédit leurs différens rapports pour des siécles à venir, est honteux de son insuffisance lorsqu'il s'arrête un instant près de lui, & qu'il veut pénétrer la cause de son exilence.

The genius that soars into infinity, that measures the extent of the heavens, that calculates the periodic revolutions of these rolling globes in the immensity of space, that, according to certain rules, predicts their different relationships for centuries to come, is ashamed of his insufficiency when he stops for a moment near it, & that he wants to penetrate the cause of his exile.

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Saturday, October 15, 2022 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 241 – The Appeal of Anne/Jean-Baptiste Grandjean - transcript

(Originally aired 2022/10/15 - listen here)


I’ve discussed the 18th century French case of Anne or Jean-Baptiste Grandjean previously on the podcast—most notably in episode 103, the second of a two-part show on “Policing Sexuality and Gender in Early Modern Europe.” One of the points I made in that episode is the difficulty of sorting out “innate identity from strategic performance from culturally-imposed categorization.” I regularly make reference to Grandjean’s case in discussions around this topic, not because it offers any absolute answers, but because it is such an object lesson in how difficult it can be to look for answers in any specific case.

This episode requires a few content notes for listeners. It includes explicit discussions of genital anatomy, including reference to an intrusive medical examination. It uses the word “hermaphrodite” in the context of historic usage, recognizing that the word is considered offensive today. And it discusses historic myths and motifs about non-normative gender and non-normative sexuality that do not align with modern understandings.

To give you a framework for the discussion, here are the basic facts. In 1732, in Grenoble, France, a child was born who was categorized as female and named Anne Grandjean and raised as a girl. At puberty, Grandjean began experiencing sexual desire for women and communicated this fact first to their parents and then to the priest who was their confessor. The priest instructed Grandjean to transition to living as a man. This was done with the full knowledge (and evidently, support) of their family and community. They courted several women and married one of them. As part of establishing financial independence from their parents, Grandjean legally changed their name from Anne to Jean-Baptiste. Some years later, when living in Lyon, a woman Grandjean had previously courted accused them of being “a hermaphrodite.” When this came to the attention of the authorities in Lyon, Grandjean was tried for the crime of “profaning the sacrament of marriage.” As part of the trial, a medical examination was performed, which concluded that Grandjean was a woman, resulting in a guilty verdict. The verdict was appealed and Grandjean’s lawyer based the appeal on a claim that Grandjean was intersex and had sufficiently masculine anatomy that it was reasonable that both Grandjean and their wife sincerely believed Grandjean to be a man. Therefore, the necessary requirement of intent was missing from the charge of profanation and Grandjean should be acquitted. The sentence was reversed but Grandjean was required to return to living as a woman and the marriage was dissolved.

Grandjean can be viewed through a number of different lenses, not only in terms of finding parallels with modern identities, but in terms of trying to tease out how they—and their contemporaries—viewed them. And here I want to lay out my principles in how I discuss and refer to Grandjean’s sex and gender. I have a personal opinion and interpretation of the evidence. My interpretation is that Grandjean was a woman, who was initially pressured into living as a man by authorities who found that more acceptable than the idea of a woman expressing sexual desire for another woman, and who then was punished for having obeyed those authorities and required to return to living as a woman. Grandjean’s appeal lawyer presents a very different take: that Grandjean was intersex, and that Grandjean’s desire for women was evidence that they should be understood as male—or at least forgiven for living as a man. As a third option—although not part of the 18th century discourse—it is reasonable to consider Grandjean within a transgender framework as someone who was assigned female and then later transitioned to being socially and legally categorized as male. Because of these multiple possible framings, and because the underlying “truth”—and I put that in scare-quotes—is not absolutely knowable, I have chosen to refer to Grandjean with gender-unspecified “they” except when quoting the original textual material, and to largely refer to them by surname, again except when quoting or paraphrasing the original texts. I’m doing so to avoid imposing my own interpretation on the presentation of the data, and to honor the unknowable understanding that Grandjean had of their own identity.

The Framework

How are all these different interpretations possible? And what is the evidence for each of them? We must start with the nature of the evidence and the way that evidence is filtered to us. The only record of this case that I’m aware of is a printed edition of the appeal lawyer’s arguments. It’s possible that court records of the original trial in Lyon exist—or existed at some point—but I’ve never seen any reference to their current availability. The published record is—as far as we can tell—authored by, or at least in the name of, the appeal lawyer. So it may or may not represent the arguments actually made in court, but clearly represents the arguments that the lawyer chose to present as the historic record.

The evidence presented at the original trial in Lyon is therefore available to us only as related by the appeal lawyer. It is clearly condensed and filtered, and it is reasonable to consider that the thoughts, motivations, and opinions attributed to the participants may have been shaped in a way that the appeal lawyer felt would best support his case. But in contrast, when details of the original trial appear to conflict with or undermine the case the appeal lawyer is trying to build, it’s reasonable to put confidence in them. I note all this, in part, to lay out the basis for my own personal conclusions about Grandjean’s life.

Another essential part of the framework for understanding this case is what people in 18th century France knew and believed about sex, gender, and orientation. Three concepts in particular are key. The question of how people understood the term “hermaphrodite,” the question of how people viewed sexual desire between women, and the question of how much people were aware of variations in genital anatomy and what meaning they ascribed to that variation.

I apologize for using the word “hermaphrodite” in a discussion that includes consideration of intersex anatomy, because modern usage considers it offensive in that context. However no other word conveniently captures the ambiguity of how it was used in the 18th century, so it’s hard to escape using it. Setting aside the use of the term in a mythological sense for a person who had a patchwork of both male and female functioning genitals, the term “hermaphrodite” was used in two senses that we would consider distinct as relating to physiology versus gender, but which people in the early modern period considered difference faces of the same idea, that of a person who incorporated both aspects that were considered male and those considered female. These could include aspects of physiology—not only genitalia, but of size, strength, presence of body or facial hair, and perceptions of conformance to physical gender norms. But the early modern concept of the hermaphrodite also encompassed aspects of personality or behavior. There were clear stereotypes of appropriate male or female characteristics, and a person who combined characteristics attributed to both sexes might be labeled a hermaphrodite. Thus, women were called hermaphrodites for gender-related behavior such as cross-dressing or engaging in sex with women, but they were also called hermaphrodites if they were sexually assertive in general, if they were active in fields associated with men such as scholarship, literature, or politics, or if they enjoyed physical activity such as horseback riding or hunting.

While the physiological concept of hermaphroditism in the early modern period encompassed people with substantially ambiguous anatomy, it also worked awkwardly around categorizing the natural variation in female anatomy, especially the clitoris. Ever since western medical science had “rediscovered” the clitoris around the 16th century, there arose the motif that women who had an unusually large clitoris could use it for penetrative sex with other women, and that such a feature in fact predisposed women to engage in sex with women. This was a prominent enough idea that it was fairly routine that if a woman were accused of having sexual relations with women, she would be examined to see if she had a particularly large clitoris, either as an explanation of her orientation or as “proof” of such activity. This motif was still in circulation in medical literature in the mid-18th century when Grandjean lived. Interestingly, the concept is not present in the appeal record. Or perhaps not so much “interestingly” as “understandably.” It is possible that the image of the lesbian with an enlarged clitoris was part of the context for the medical examination of Grandjean in the Lyon trial, even though this framing was not specifically mentioned. But when someone presenting as male is accused of not truly being a man, then a medical examination would have been standard practice in any case. Within the context of the appeal, Grandjean’s lawyer would hardly have been likely to raise this image as a possibility as it would have undermined his case that was aimed at presenting Grandjean as a well-meaning, moral person, if perhaps ignorant and naïve.

In general, sex between women was typically viewed as involving one woman “behaving like a man” even when no cross-dressing was involved, when there was no question of non-normative anatomy, and regardless of the specific sex act involved. Beginning around or after the date of Grandjean’s trial, we do begin to see French libertine literature presenting sex between women as something that could occur within a purely feminine context, and indeed as representing a type of female separatism that rejected masculinity. But this image had not yet entered the general popular imagination. And such an image would not have benefitted Grandjean’s case, had it been invoked.

The Evidence

So what does Grandjean’s appeal document actually say about their history and situation? The quotations here are taken from my translation of the original French record. For those who want to follow along, the original, the translation, and my commentary are in the process of being published on the Lesbian Historic Motif Project blog at the time this episode airs.

“A child was born in Grenoble in the month of November 1732, to Jean-Baptiste Grandjean, & Claudine Cordier.” The child was perceived as being female, was baptized with the name Anne, and was raised as a girl among girls. The record makes no mention of Grandjean behaving in gender-transgressive ways or of expressing anything that today we would label gender dysphoria. The record also makes no mention of Grandjean being out of step with normative female biology, and this is a point I’ll come back to. What we do have, when Grandjean reaches the age of 14, as the record notes “the age when passions begin to establish their empire,” is that Grandjean began experiencing “an instinct of pleasure” in the presence of women but was left “cold and quiet” in the presence of men.

In this context, the appeal lawyer (who we must remember is the person recounting this history) leaves a trail of clues to his rejection of the possibility of female same-sex desire. When Grandjean first feels the stirrings of sexual desire, he editorializes that it was “a faculty that did not belong to the sex Grandjean was first believed to be.” He describes Grandjean’s desires as representing a “travesty of nature’s work.” The word “travesty” of course literally means “cross-dressing” but here we can understand it in both its senses. The lawyer consider that Grandjean has mistakenly been garbed in a woman’s body—a form of cross-dressing—but also that their desire is a mockery of nature’s intent.

Nowhere in the lawyer’s framing does he recognize the possibility of a woman desiring a woman. Is this a genuine gap in his imagination? Possibly. We’re still in an era where such desire was presumed to be due to some sort of inherent masculinity on the part of one of the women. But if he accepted the premise that Grandjean was an unquestioned woman who happened to desire women, then he would have a nearly impossible task in front of him in making his case for acquittal. One major leg of his case rests on convincing the judges that Grandjean is not simply emotionally masculine in desiring women, but that there is an objective physical basis for those feelings.

So what happens next? Grandjean’s father noticed their attraction to women and asked questions. Here, the lawyer does something maddening which is repeated throughout the text every time we get close to talking about sexual matters: he goes all coy and vague. (Sometimes he waxes poetic.) Grandjean answered their father’s questions “in an embarrassing manner.” Which tells us nothing at all about what was said. Presumably the specific details were presented in the Lyon court, and presumably the appeal lawyer knew what was said, but we—alas—are excluded from that knowledge.

Grandjean’s father evidently was uncertain how to respond to his child’s reaction and said, “Go talk to your confessor and do what he says.” That this was initially considered a moral matter rather than a legal one is not particularly surprising. As far as we know, Grandjean hadn’t acted on their feelings at this point and no one had made any complaint. But Grandjean’s father felt something was out of line sufficiently that he needed appeal to a higher authority.

The priest’s response is where we get into interesting territory. This passage involves an alternation of pronoun gender, so it’s worth quoting in full, though we must ascribe the assignment of pronoun gender to our appeal lawyer, not necessarily to the priest. “The child was docile; the confessor was instructed. He told the young person that she could not remain any longer without crime in woman’s clothing, that this clothing gave her too easy access to girls of her age, and that it was necessary for him to take the clothing suitable for his dominant sex.”

This passage is as meaningful for what it doesn’t say as for what it does. Read literally, the priest was concerned that if Grandjean continued wearing women’s clothing and living as a woman, it would allow them too easy access to women that would result in “crime.” There are two possible crimes under consideration here: the crime of pre-marital heterosexual sex, and the crime of sex between two women. Either of those could be addressed by creating the social barrier of male gender presentation, but each involves violating other gender norms. If the priest genuinely believed that Grandjean was, in fact, actually a woman, then he is instructing a woman to cross-dress and take on male prerogatives—something that women were punished for if they chose to do it on their own authority. But if the priest genuinely believed that Grandjean was, in fact, actually a man, then why is there no mention of verifying this by some other means, such as a medical examination? Further, as we hear in later testimony, Grandjean had female-appearing breasts, so even without an examination one wonders how likely such a belief would be.

As far as the evidence indicates, the concern here was solely about desire and potential behavior. There’s no suggestion that Grandjean went to their confessor and said, “I think maybe I’m really a man.” Certainly no suggestion that Grandjean said, “I think maybe I’ve developed a male body.” Only that Grandjean appears to have said, “I think I desire girls.” And as far as we can tell, that’s the basis on which the priest said, “Well, guess you must be a man then.” Was the priest naïve and being guided solely by a firm adherence to heteronormativity? Was he being pragmatic and concerned primarily with the appearance of heterosexuality? Was he uncertain about what advice to give and picked a path randomly? Certainly one option would have been to tell Grandjean, “What you desire is a sin. Do a penance for that and do not sin further.” Regardless of what interpretation we put on his advice, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Unfortunately, the text suggests answers only in its silences.

What happened next is most intriguing for what it suggests about transgender possibilities, regardless of Grandjean’s individual identity. “The confessor’s advice was carried out, and it was a singular novelty in the city of Grenoble to see an individual who, until then, had been known only as a girl suddenly appear with the attributes of masculinity. Grandjean, in the clothing of a man, appeared what he was—or what he thought he was—and the young girls in his neighborhood saw him with a new interest.”

This was an overt, public transition of social gender. The priest said, “Hey folks, Anne Grandjean is a man now,” and apparently everyone else in the town said, “OK, got it.” Grenoble was not exactly a bustling metropolis in the mid 18th century, but neither was it a tiny village. Using a population statistic for Grenoble from the end of the 18th century and applying a relative proportion based on overall population statistics for France across that century, we can estimate that in the year of Grandjean’s birth, the town had maybe 13-14,000 inhabitants. Not so small that everyone would automatically know everyone else, but certainly small enough that a novelty such as Grandjean’s transition can be expected to be common knowledge.

So when Grandjean started courting women it's reasonable to expect that they were familiar with Grandjean’s history. This will be relevant in a little while. The record notes two of Grandjean’s girlfriends by name, Mademoiselle Legrand who is noted as their first girlfriend, and then Françoise Lambert whom they married. The author again becomes coy and elusive when discussing this courtship. “Their passion introduced familiarities. Françoise Lambert knew all that Grandjean could be, and Grandjean seemed to her to be all that was necessary. These familiarities only served to make their union more intimate; they wished to seal it with the seal of religion.” Vague language, but it seems fairly straightforward to interpret this as saying that Lambert and Grandjean became physically intimate to the point where they felt they needed to get married. And within the vague language, it suggests that Lambert had no doubts or questions that were raised during those “familiarities.” The bans were published, no one raised any impediments, and they were married.

Now we must note that the bans and the marriage took place in Chamberry, not in Grenoble, perhaps because that was where Lambert’s family lived? Chamberry was perhaps half the size of Grenoble at the time and located about 30 miles away. It’s within the realm of possibility that Lambert and her family were not familiar in detail with Grandjean’s history, and further that their neighbors in Chamberry who heard the reading of the bans simply didn’t have the information that might have led them to question the validity of the marriage. But it’s also possible that Grandjean, having been instructed by the church to live as a man, was therefore taken as such.

The narrative continues, “The inclination of the two spouses was as lively as that of the two lovers had been. They lived in good faith, happy and tranquil, without Françoise Lambert having any distrust of her husband’s sex, and without this husband having any suspicion of his insufficiency.” Or maybe they didn’t consider that there was any “insufficiency?” Let’s pause a moment to think about the possibilities for how the couple understood their identities and the nature of their relationship. If Grandjean had never previously questioned their gender identity, then we must conclude that either they considered that the priest had the authority to make them into a man, or they simply went along with it as a masquerade because it aligned with their own desires and inclinations. Is it plausible that Grandjean was sufficiently ignorant of the differences between male and female anatomy that they thought they were, physically, a man? That’s not an easy question to answer. Is it plausible that Lambert was similarly ignorant, or that their intimate relations were conducted in such a way that she had no idea what sort of anatomy Grandjean had? Again, not an easy question to answer.

It’s a common motif in court narratives of the wives of “female husbands” that they had no idea that their husband did not have normative male anatomy, despite having a sexual relationship. But court records of this type create a massive incentive for the wives to claim such ignorance regardless of the facts. Just as Grandjean’s appeal lawyer had a massive incentive to impute such ignorance to the couple. If we look for comparative material, there are multiple possibilities. It’s possible that they both understood Grandjean to be physiologically female, but did not consider this a problem. It’s possible that Grandjean considered themself to be physiologically female but that Lambert had insufficient data to conclude this. It’s possible that Grandjean believed themself to be physiologically male, due to ignorance and the persuasion of authority, and Lambert either was similarly ignorant or didn’t care. And, taking into consideration the appeal lawyer’s arguments, it’s possible that Grandjean had ambiguous physiology sufficient that the couple didn’t question their masculinity. The issue of transgender identity is subsumed, to some extent, under the option that Grandjean believed the priest had the authority and power to reassign their gender by fiat and accepted the result as true.

As I’ll discuss in more detail in a bit, I find the lawyer’s claims of intersex physiology to be weak and suspect. But I also consider the hypothesis that both spouses were unquestioningly naïve about Grandjean’s sex to be on shaky ground. And the next bit shakes it further.

Lambert and Grandjean wanted to set up in business together, but Grandjean was still subject to parental authority over finances, despite being married. (The lawyer feels the need to point out that this might seem unusual to the reader.) So Grandjean asked their father to grant them legal emancipation, which was done in front of a judge at Grenoble, and in the same context Grandjean officially took on the male name of Jean-Baptiste (their father’s given name). That this took place after the marriage suggests (though it doesn’t absolutely prove) that Grandjean was using the name Anne at the time of marriage and that the shift to a male name was something that Lambert would be quite aware of. This isn’t quite so much of a “well, duh” moment as you might think. Given names that we consider feminine were sometimes used for men in the past, and Wikipedia provides a list of at least 9 prominent Frenchmen who were alive during the 18th century who had Anne as their sole given name or as part of a compound given name. But the act of changing the name from Anne to Jean-Baptiste certainly suggests that Grandjean considered it a gender marker, and it’s reasonable to believe that if Lambert had questions or concerns about her husband’s gender, that this would have been a context for raising them.

After living in Chamberry for a year, the couple moved to Lyon as a more promising location for their business. (The specific business is never mentioned.) They took lodgings with a silk merchant and lived upright and blameless lives for three years. Lyon was a much larger place, with ten times the population of Chamberry. But there’s no suggestion that they went there to “lose themselves in the big city,” simply that it was more promising economically.

At this place in the narrative, we can imagine Grandjean’s lawyer standing before the judge, pausing dramatically, and then intoning portentiously, “Mais voici le moment de l'infortune. Here is the moment of misfortune!” Every once in a while in the text, one does get the sense of the dramatic presentation he must have made in the courtroom.

The Disaster in Lyon

So…you remember Grandjean’s first girlfriend, Mademoiselle Legrand? She shows up in Lyon. The narrative says, “There she learned that he had married Françoise Lambert.” Had she genuinely not known about the marriage? Or was it simply that she hadn’t encountered the couple since that time? But evidently Legrand carried some sort of grudge. According to the narrative, she sought out Lambert and said that she was astonished to hear of the marriage because Grandjean was a hermaphrodite!”

Here we should pause to consider what Legrand knew, what she believed, and how she felt about it. The narrative suggests that Legrand was Grandjean’s first courtship, and indicates that Grandjean was the one who broke it off. There’s even a suggestion that Grandjean broke it off directly in favor of Lambert. In any event, all the considerations of to what extent Lambert was familiar with Grandjean’s personal history apply equally to Legrand. So when Legrand states that there was an irregularity in Grandjean’s gender, we need to ask what she meant by it and how she came to that conclusion.

The second is the easier question. If Legrand was familiar with Grandjean’s history, and knew they had changed from living as a woman to living as a man, that alone could be a basis for challenging Grandjean’s gender, regardless of whether Legrand had more intimate knowledge. While the appeal lawyer generally uses the term “hermaphrodite” in contexts that are talking about ambiguous physiology, there’s no reason to assume that Legrand was using it in a technical medical sense, rather than simply to mean “this is a person whose life has combined male and female attributes.” Regardless of exactly what Legrand intended when using the word (and we don’t know for certain that she used that specific word, only that the lawyer uses it to characterize her accusation), the implication is clear that she is accusing Grandjean of being unsuitable for marriage to a woman in some fashion.

Why would she do such a thing? And why at that point in time? Recall that the reading of the bans and the marriage took place in Chamberry, not in Grenoble. Perhaps Legrand was genuinely unaware of the marriage. Perhaps she, like Lambert, came from somewhere other than Grenoble (where she had met Grandjean) and their paths had not previously crossed since the original courtship. But why make a fuss now rather than having raised an outcry in the context of the courtship? The presentation of the episode hints that it may have been personal spite and jealousy. A desire to make trouble for someone she perceived as having been her romantic rival. This is speculation but it would fit the facts.

The author depicts Lambert’s reaction to this accusation as one of surprise and confusion—plus a suggestion that it explained the reason they had no children. But here I return to the standard script for the wives of “female husbands.” Legrand has come to her, accused her of being married to a hermaphrodite, and as we learn a little bit later, continued on to announce this to the general public in Lyon, who seized on it like the latest issue of National Enquirer. There are two plausible explanations for what the couple did next: either they were naïve enough to think that explaining their story to the authorities could solve everything, or they realized there was no way to escape trouble so their best bet was to get in front of the narrative and try to shape it for the best outcome. Either makes sense.

 Lambert raised the matter with her confessor who instructed her not to have “any more familiarity with her husband.” Then Grandjean and Lambert went to the Grand Vicar of Lyon to explain the situation and ask for advice. The lawyer’s narrative frames this act as stemming from a genuine concern that they might have inadvertently done something wrong, and thus that it is evidence on its own of Grandjean’s innocence. Perhaps this is accurate. But perhaps it was Grandjean’s attempt to make the best of a bad situation. Going to the authorities directly would certainly look better than being dragged in front of them unwillingly.

The Vicar General was a religious authority and we have no information about how he might have dealt with the case if it had been left to him, but the public furor had come to the attention of the secular authorities, first to the deputy of the Attorney General in Lyon, and then to the King’s Prosecutor. The charge, as given in this part of the text, was that “a hermaphrodite woman had married a woman…and had been living with her for several years.” At that, a formal complaint was filed and Grandjean was arrested.

There are a number of possible charges that could have been made at this point, when you consider the historic context and other similar trials. In previous centuries in France, in cases of female husbands, the most common concern was the exact nature of the sexual relations involved. If the husband had used an artificial penis to perform penetrative sex, this invoked the harshest penalties, up to and including death. But in Crompton’s survey of trials for lesbian activity up through the French revolution, he found no 18th century trials of this nature in France. It’s noteworthy that nowhere in Grandjean’s record is there mention of charges that specifically mention sex acts. In contrast, severe penalties for male homosexuality were common in 18th century France.

Another possible charge that isn’t raised is the act of cross-dressing. Cross-dressing—outside of licensed contexts such as the theater—was technically illegal in France well past this date, but application of the law was highly dependent on context and purpose. If Grandjean were categorized as a woman, then cross-dressing was an undeniable charge, and yet there’s no mention of it anywhere in the text.

The charge that was settled on, and of which Grandjean was initially convicted, was profanation of the sacrament of marriage. That is, engaging in the forms of a marriage that was not legitimate. The trial involved questioning of the accused, which is presumably where the majority of the details of Grandjean’s life come from. But it also involved a medical examination to establish the supposed “facts” of Grandjean’s physiology. This is the sort of examination one might have expected to be done when Grandjean’s gender was first reassigned. And the absence of any reference to an examination at that time strongly implies that there was none. At this point in the narrative, the author relates simply, “the surgeons in their report, after having given an account of what they had found him to have belonging to the male sex, had to attest that his predominant sex was that of a woman.”

Anatomical Notes

This is a curious sort of phrasing. And it harks back to phrasing used earlier in the text, when describing Grandjean’s birth. The author phrases it as, “the most apparent sex” of the baby was female. And later when the author is discussing the classification of hermaphrodites under classical Roman law, he notes that they are evaluated “as the sex which prevails.” So beginning from when Grandjean was born—a time when no one raised any questions about gender assignment—the author is regularly framing Grandjean’s anatomy as existing within a spectrum in which one identity may “prevail” or “be apparent” using wording that suggests ambiguity even when none was called out.

But was there ambiguity in this examination? That’s an excellent question. I’m going to jump ahead in the narrative a bit to dig into it. When the lawyer is presenting his major arguments, he provides a rather detailed anatomical description. (Prefacing it with a note that he’s putting it in Latin to avoid it “falling into the hands of people whose modesty we would fear to alarm,” i.e., women, who could largely be assumed not to have studied Latin.) Since no mention has been made of a second medical examination, we are left to assume that these details come from the one performed in Lyon which concluded that Grandjean was “predominantly…a woman.” And yet this detailed version works very hard to lead the reader to a different conclusion. I’m going to give it in full and hope that my listeners—being familiar with the content of this podcast—will not have their modesty alarmed.

“Between the labia, above the urinary meatus, a certain fleshy mass is seen before it, bearing the appearance of a male member, erecting itself with delight in the presence of a woman and standing firm in coitus; it is the thickness of a finger when it is raised and extended, the length of five transverse fingers. On the top of the penis or male member appear a glans with a foreskin, but the glans is not perforated therefore no semen can be sent through it. Under the penis and on either side of the opening of the vulva appear like the balls of the testicles; and the opening of the vulva is small, barely admitting a finger. The menses does not flow through it, nor is it moved by any pleasant sensation, nor is it irrigated with female seed.”

This description raises several questions. Other than the rather substantial dimensions, the member in question corresponds to the features of a clitoris, not a penis. It’s separate from the urethra and produces no emissions. And with some allowance for approximation it falls within the range categorized as a macro-clitoris—though that raises the question of why the feature wasn’t noted when Grandjean was an infant, since a childhood observation of ambiguous anatomy would have greatly strengthened the lawyer’s argument. The size of the vaginal opening, though characterized as small, is within the normal range for someone who has not experienced childbirth and who has not participated in penetrative intercourse.

But this description makes three claims that seem to go beyond what’s likely to have been apparent in an examination. The first is the claim that the member “erects with delight in the presence of a woman and stands firm in coitus.” My question is, how do they know? Did they observe erection and coitus in the course of the medical examination? And if they did, how does that fit with their conclusions that Grandjean was predominantly female?

Secondly, the claim that the vagina is “not moved by any pleasant sensation” strikes me as not being meaningful in the context of a medical examination. The suggestion that Grandjean’s sexual arousal is focused on an erect macro-clitoris and not on the vagina seems designed to support the author’s arguments about Grandjean’s sex categorization, but for that very reason, it’s valid to question their believability. Several aspects of this description align strongly with medical manuals of the 17th and 18th century that promoted the association of an enlarged clitoris with excess female libido. Given that the author is clearly well read in medical literature, it’s plausible that he enhanced the description with material from these sources.

The third question regards the claim that Grandjean did not menstruate. In and of itself, this isn’t an implausible claim—there are any number of possible reasons for an absence of menses. But as with several other details, it seems like the sort of thing a mother might note and discuss with her child, and there is no mention of this issue in the narrative about Grandjean’s experiences at puberty.

In summary, when you compare the lack of any discussion of atypical sexual characteristics in Grandjean’s youth, and the conclusion of the initial medical examiners that Grandjean’s anatomy was female, I think there’s a basis for significant scrutiny of the lawyer’s arguments that the case is far more ambiguous and suggestive of masculinity.

Let’s go ahead and look at some of those other arguments, though we need to circle back and review how the lawyer structures his case overall.

As further evidence, the lawyer notes that Grandjean is “constituted in such a way as to be indifferent to men…that all his desires as well as his faculties lead him to the side of the woman.” This is a return to the argument that the object of one’s desire is evidence of one’s gender. The author may have firmly believed it to be the case, but that doesn’t mean we should accept it as a medical conclusion. With regard to secondary sexual characteristics, Grandjean is noted as having no beard, but does have hairy legs, that their throat is more like a woman’s except for not being “delicate and sensitive,” that Grandjean has breasts of an expected size for a woman but the author faults aspects of their color as not matching a feminine ideal, and that Grandjean’s voice is “that of a male child who is reaching adolescence…sometimes low, sometimes high.” All of these speak to a divergence from gender ideals but do not offer strong evidence for physiological sex.

The arguments that Grandjean has masculine-leaning physiology are not the only ones the lawyer brings but they are clearly the keystone of his case. This is made clear in the way he structures the narrative, and here we must circle back to the judgement at Lyon.

The Appeal

The court at Lyon convicted Grandjean of profaning the sacrament of marriage and sentenced them to be tied in the stocks with a notice of the conviction, then to be whipped, and then to be banished for life. Based on other sentences of banishment that I’ve encountered, typically this was a banishment from the specific city, not from the nation.

Grandjean appealed the judgment—I’ve found some indication that any sentence involving corporal punishment was allowed an automatic appeal to the court in Paris. The court indicated that it considered the question of Grandjean’s gender unresolved to the extent that they were placed in solitary confinement rather than being put with either the men or the women.

We may assume that this is the point in the story where the author of the appeal text enters the stage. And he does treat it as a stage. We get quite a sense of the lawyer’s personality and background from the details of the text. He is highly educated and widely read. He’s familiar with the classics and either previously, or in the context of this case, has made a special study of literature on hermaphroditism. He is a strong and eager advocate for Grandjean’s moral innocence. The case he builds rests on several related points: that Grandjean’s physiological sex is ambiguous, that Grandjean honestly and sincerely believed themself to be a man, and that Grandjean entered into marriage in the context of this sincere belief. While the lawyer sometimes uses female language for Grandjean when relating their early history, or when representing other people’s speech or beliefs about Grandjean, he is otherwise consistent in referring to Grandjean with masculine language, even at the point when the appeals court sentences Grandjean to return to living as a woman. Oops, sorry, spoiler?

In one way, the lawyer faced the easiest of the possible charges that could have been brought against Grandjean. As I noted earlier, cross-dressing would have been an undeniable charge. An accusation of using an instrument for penetrative sex was difficult to counter, even if no instrument was in evidence. And if the charge had focused on the image of Grandjean using their alleged macro-clitoris for penetrative sex, that too would have been very hard to counter. The simple possession of such anatomy was often taken as proof of its illicit use.

But the charge was the profanation of marriage, and an essential component of that charge is intent. And, as we’ll see, the one aspect of the defense that the court seems to have accepted is that Grandjean had no intent to engage in an illicit union.

But first we get an extensive, detailed demonstration of the lawyer’s learning and erudition as he relates the entire history of the concept of hermaphroditism, of its legal consequences, and of the various types of evidence used to support the conclusion that Grandjean was a hermaphrodite. Given that Legrand’s alleged accusation was exactly that—that Grandjean was a hermaphrodite—it’s interesting that the lawyer’s defense boils down to, “Yes, and here’s why that mean’s he’s not guilty.”

I’m not going to go into detail about this historical discussion; if you’re interested, check out the blog. But in summary, he establishes that hermaphrodites are a known thing—by which he means specifically the sense of the word that we would call intersex conditions—and that France of his day is, of course, far more enlightened about hermaphrodites and how to treat them under the law than previous cultures were. Here, we sense he is slyly suggesting to the court that history will judge it by its verdict. This theoretical framework is then followed by the detailed medical discussion that we went through earlier by which the lawyer situates Grandjean within the various categories of hermaphrodites according to his conclusions.

In the lawyer’s second point, he sets out the argument that in order to profane marriage, one must have married in bad faith. That if the participant genuinely believes they are free and able to contract the marriage in question, then even if the marriage turns out to be illegitimate, it is not profanation. He offers the example of someone who reasonably believes a former spouse to be dead and then remarries. Or someone who marries with no reason to believe that they are not capable of procreation, but where it becomes apparent afterward that they are unable to do so. Thus, he argues, if a hermaphrodite sincerely believes they are capable of all the necessary functions of their role in the marriage with regard to procreation, then the fact that they are incapable does not constitute profanation.

This argument would appear to require that Grandjean did genuinely have this belief. As I’ve suggested, the evidence for this position strikes me as weak in terms of physical suitability. But in his third point, the lawyer covers this potential gap in the logic. The third point summarizes the reasons why Grandjean can be considered to have entered the marriage in good faith. Firstly the physical evidence—and here the lawyer seems to back off a little on the nature of that evidence. He asserts that “of the attributes of masculinity, the accused lacks only one” that is, the ability to impregnate a woman. But further that Grandjean was ignorant and unsophisticated, that “he knew his state only by the impulse of nature” i.e., the nature of his sexual desire, and that “the experience of debauchery had not enlightened him.” This is the closest the lawyer seems to come to admitting that another possible framing of Grandjean’s desires was as a form of debauchery. There’s an interesting phrase embedded in this section. He states that Grandjean was “not a philosopher.” And while one could read this literally as meaning that Grandjean wasn’t a deep and sophisticated thinker about sexual issues, at this time “philosophical literature” had become a slang term for pornography and “philosopher” a dog-whistle for libertine. So it’s possible to read this statement as reinforcing the implicit denial that Grandjean’s desires indicated the moral depravity of homosexuality.

The lawyer follows this with the argument that Grandjean believed themself to be male because of their desire for women and indifference to men. And that Lambert’s acceptance and enjoyment of the marriage supported that conclusion. This is a different argument than asserting that Grandjean must have been masculine-leaning intersex because of their desire for women. It is plausible that Grandjean accepted this argument—one initially presented to them by a religious authority figure—and had a sincere belief that the nature of their desire was an indication of male gender. The lawyer follows this up by noting that their male gender identity was accepted and supported by their community, which made it even more reasonable for Grandjean to accept and believe the reassignment. The passage with this argument is worth quoting in full.

“At the age of fourteen, Anne Grandjean took on the clothes of a man, and left those of a girl that he had worn until then. This metamorphosis took place under the eyes of his father, in his house, and according to the advice of his Confessor. Anne Grandjean's father therefore believed that the true sex of his child was male: the whole city of Grenoble believed it too. Such was the opinion of the Magistrates of Police of this City, who would not have suffered this change of clothes, if they had thought that there had been transvestism. Anne Grandjean, regarded as a boy by everyone, was no longer employed in anything but the works that belong to the male sex, and the strength of his temperament made them easy for him. … In the act made before the Magistrate, [Grandjean’s father] named him his son; he gave him the name of Jean-Baptiste, as if to rectify the error which had crept into the baptismal act. Anne Grandjean received the full rights of a citizen, as a man and as a husband; the Judge ratified all these powers with the seal of his authority. Thus, Grandjean's error was a mistake common to everyone; if it is criminal, it should therefore be blamed on everyone: for it is this public error that has strengthened the defendant's confidence. Better said, it is this error which today justifies him; nature alone is at fault in this matter, and how can the accused be made guarantor of the wrongs of nature?”

Up until that last sentence, this is an argument that does not rely on any conclusions about Grandjean’s physiology. It’s an appeal that, if Grandjean’s entire community treated them as male, then they cannot be blamed for believing and acting on that understanding. “Grandjean’s error” he calls it, meaning the belief that he was entitled to enter into marriage in the role of a husband.

And with that, the lawyer winds up his argument with an emotional appeal that returns to the image of Grandjean as a hermaphrodite, condemned to be neither one thing nor the other, doomed to be a stranger to love and companionship as they can function neither in a male nor female role, how can the court burden Grandjean further by labeling them infamous, immoral, and worthy of banishment? The Romans treated hermaphrodites barbarically, he declaims, but we are governed by laws founded on humanity and justice!

The Judgment

The judgment of the court ended up being a split decision, and we can try to work out which arguments they accepted and which they rejected based on the details.

They overturned the verdict of profanation of the sacrament and Grandjean was released with no corporal punishment and without being banished. From this, we may conclude that they accepted the argument that Grandjean sincerely believed they had entered into a valid marriage, though the marriage was declared invalid.

But they did not uphold the classification of Grandjean as male. They ruled that Grandjean was required to return to wearing feminine clothing. And the court went one step further: it required that Grandjean was prohibited from associating with François Lambert. This suggests that the appellate court did not have confidence that the correction of Grandjean’s “error of understanding” would be sufficient to prevent them continuing to have a now-illicit relationship with Lambert. The court—apparently alone among the authorities in this case—evidently did acknowledge that a person assigned female could experience sexual desire for a woman and wanted to make it clear that such a thing was unacceptable. It was so unacceptable that Grandjean was additionally prohibited from associating with “other persons of the same sex.”

This last requirement really throws a wrench into the works. Requiring a separation from Lambert might simply be enforcing the dissolution of the marriage. But what does it mean that Grandjean may not associate with others of the “same sex?” For a person living socially as a woman to be forbidden to associate with women is drastic. Even if Grandjean were then to marry a man, the vast majority of their everyday life would normally involve socializing with women. And Grandjean can’t live as a man-among-men if required to present socially as female. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t know what Grandjean’s fate was, but the court is setting them up for a very unhappy and unsuccessful life, despite the conviction being overturned.

Even so, Grandjean’s case is inspiring, not for the specific outcome of their case personally, but for what it tells us about the possibilities for queer lives in 18th century France, about the range of beliefs and opinions on those possibilities, and about the willingness of individuals and communities to support lives outside normative expectations, even if they had to contort their understanding of reality to do so.

Show Notes

In this episode we talk about:

  • The trial record of Anne/Jean-Baptiste Grandjean
  • The context in which a woman was instructed to transition to a man in 18th century France
  • Social and legal models of gender in the past
  • The ambiguity of the historic record and the problem of “true identities”
  • Sources mentioned
    • Brief for Anne Grandjean, known by the name of Jean-Baptiste Grandjean, Accused & Appellant by M. Vermeil
  • The full text of the source, in original, translation, and commentary, can be found on the Lesbian Historic Motif Project blog.
  • This topic is discussed in one or more entries of the Lesbian Historic Motif Project here: Anne Grandjean

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

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