Memories of Herculine Adélaîde Barbin is the autobiography of an intersex person who was deﬁned as a woman at birth in 1838 and then compelled to change her identity to the male sex in 1860. The writing in which Abel (formerly Adélaîde) tells his story was kept by the forensic doctor in charge of his autopsy after his suicide in 1868. The doctor Aguste Tardeu, in 1874, published part of this diary in his work "Question médico-légale de L`identité". Michael Foucault finds this book and decides to publish the diary prologue with his essay "The True Sex" in 1985.
Abel writes his memories in 1863, in his room in Paris "My place was not marked in this world that shied away from me, that had cursed me. No living being had to accompany the immense pain that overwhelmed me as I left childhood, at that age when everything is beautiful, because everything is young and with a bright future "
Adélaide enters the hospice at age 6. "The morning of that day I completely ignored what was going to happen a few hours after getting up; My mother, making me leave as if I were going for a walk, led me in silence to the house of L .., where the reverend superior was waiting for me; she lavished upon me the most affectionate caresses, no doubt to hide the tears that my poor mother shed in silence, who, after having embraced me for a long time, walked away sadly, feeling that her courage was failing her. "
"The mothers who surrounded me, offering the smile of an angel before my eyes as a child, seemed to love me so much! I was not afraid by her side, and I was so happy!" "Soon I met my young companions, whom I loved immediately. I also felt an object of an almost respectful predilection, given that the poor children understood perfectly how much their luck differed from mine. I had a family, a mother, which from time to time incited their envy."
Léa, I love you
First Communion Day "The temperature, until then warm and perfumed, suddenly became overwhelming. Black clouds rolled across the horizon, foreshadowing one of those fiery storms so common in that warm climate. Thick drops of rain soon came to confirm it, and when the cortege returned to the chapel, sinister lightning streaked across the horizon. Much to my regret, my heart cringed. Was it an omen of the gloomy and threatening future that awaited me? Should I see it like that, when embarking on that fragile skiff called the world? "
At 15 he returns to live with his mother, as a maid of Clotilde "... Five people made up this family. Her boss, a venerable old man with white hair, was the living personification of honor and loyalty. Near him was his little daughter (...) Mrs. R ... had three children upon whom she had overturned the inexhaustible tenderness that contained her heart. "
Adolescence in the house of the R. family "I was present when she got up in the morning, always early, both in summer and in winter. Then I dressed her and during this operation we talked about the two possible topics. If there was silence, I used to admire it naively. "
"I said before that I had read a lot. My judgment had developed early. At the age when one is still in adolescence, I was serious, reflective”. “I confess that I was especially upset by the reading of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Those who know them can get an idea. This finding held a significance for me that the continuation of my story will clearly prove".
A New Body
"My features had a certain hardness that was impossible to hide. A light hair that grew every day covered my upper lip and part of my cheeks. It is understood that this peculiarity often gave rise to jokes that I wanted to avoid using frequently the scissors as a blade. I only managed, as was natural, to thicken it more and make it even more visible. My body was literally covered, and I carefully avoided to undress my arms, even during the most intense heat, when my companions did. As for my waist, it was a really ridiculous tightness. "