Sunday, November 9, 2008

Barbin the hermaphrodite

It is Intersex Solidarity Day, thanks to Herculine Barbin born and designated a female 170 years ago today. She died tragically before reaching 30, having changed her gender to male and her name to Abel some years earlier. She left a diary, though, describing her short life which has been widely used by academics studying gender issues. In the 1970s and 1980s, Michel Foucault, a French intellectual, brought Barbin’s story to a wider audience, and it then became the inspiration for a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

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