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Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 07:00

This paper is brief and preliminary (though, alas, the author's CV doesn't list any more recent publications that appear to have expanded on it) but offers a glorious survey of classical greek painting on ceramics depicting pairs of women with all the symbolic signifiers of erotic courtship. Given that several authors who specifically discuss this type of evidence in the context of female homoeroticism seem to have overlooked or been unaware of several of the pieces discussed here--and given the examples of how the erotic interpretations of the figures have been dismissed or ignored by previous scholars who examined them--it suggests that there may be many more depictions of female homoeroticism in Greek art that simply haven't come to the attention of anyone who considered them interesting or relevant. I strongly recommend clicking through to download the original article because it's copiously illustrated.

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Full citation: 

Altman, Meryl. 2009. “Parthenoi to Watch Out For? Looking at Female Couples in Vase-Painting and Lyric” in CAMWS. [Note: this is from a conference proceeding. The word Parthenoi is in the Greek alphabet]

Publication summary: 

A methodological discussion of how to interpret images of paired women in Classical Greek art.

This article is a conference proceeding rather than written for publication, therefore it has a somewhat more informal flavor than usual. It takes a methodological approach to questions of how to interpret images of two women in classical Greek art that would be interpreted as involving courtship motifs if the figures were two men or a man and a woman.

The author leads us on a discovery tour involving one particular kylix, first showing the interior image, which was what the author initially had access to, which shows two young women, one holding the other by the wrist and leading or pulling the other forward. The second holds writing equipment in her other hand. Scholars have generally described it fairly neutrally: either as a school scene, based on the writing equipment, or as a scene of unwilling persuasion. The author admits that she was first attracted to the image due to the potential interpretation of the women as a romantic couple. But she admits that it was wishful speculation at the time the idea occurred to her.

At a later time, the author described the vase to another scholar who immediately responded, “Oh, the one with the courting couples of women on the back!” Returning to the object and viewing the much more extensive scenes on the underside of the bowl, it becomes much more difficult to see the interior figures in isolation as non-erotic. The female figures around the underside are shown in a variety of poses that reflect a recognized vocabulary of courtship in male pederastic art. Each couple involves one woman eagerly persuading and the other being more reticent. The dress and gestures are also recognizable as involving symbols of courtship.

This leads to a consideration of how the entire decorative program of Greek vase art must be considered in order to interpret the individual elements. The context provides cues and clues to the meaning of images that may otherwise seem generic. Several examples of pottery with similar programs of heterosexual courting or sexual couples are offered as comparison.

Returning to the original kylix the author discusses both the real difficulties and artificial barriers to interpreting female figures in Greek art. There are circular arguments regarding the nature or profession of women depicted in art, based on assumptions that respectable women would not be so depicted, therefore any woman shown in a scene must fall outside of social respectability. No woman in a vase painting--according to this position--can be interpreted as typical, and therefore the art does not represent women as a class. Alternately ,the author considers the position that some put forth that images of two women together in Greek art always represent a parody or a joke--that the image can never be representative or sincere. This argument is based on assumptions about the user the object (a drinking vessel used at symposia), based on the position that women did not attend symposia or similar types of gatherings, therefore the intended viewership have been men and must be interpreted through a male gaze. [Note: it’s clear that the article’s author is challenging many of the underlying assumptions here.]

The author compares these problems of interpretation with the scholarly reception of poetry describing female couples or female romantic interactions, most notably, of course, Sappho, but also touching specifically on Alcman’s Partheneion. However, the author reserves for a later article a more extensive comparison of the depictions of female couples in these paintings and in poetry. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, that later, more in-depth study has not been written.

The remainder of the article is taken up by additional description of the artwork, including an observation that the pairs of figures around the underside of the bowl could potentially be read as a temporal progression of a single relationship, given the variation in how the couple interacts and the arrangement of their garments. Alternately these variations could simply indicate different possibilities for a courting couple. The article includes many illustrations about half of them in color.

In the final discussions, the author notes that Sandra Boehringer’s study of classical female homoeroticism does not include these specific images and that they contradict some of her claims about how female eroticism is depicted in ancient Greek art. The images also address questions of whether female same-sex relations in classical Greece were less hierarchical than those of male couples, with these artistic depictions suggesting greater similarities to the hierarchy in other courting couples, while poetry suggests a more egalitarian depiction. But a wider study of depictions of female couples or at least pairs of the women in Greek art of a wide variety of styles and eras suggests a range of relationships--some showing asymmetric interactions and others showing a more mirror-like relationship.

In conclusion, the images provide a strong case for the legibility of female romantic or erotic couples in Greek art that is not always apparent in other surveys of the topic.

[Note: the article is available online here and is worth downloading to see the art.]

Time period: 
Tuesday, November 8, 2022 - 08:10

As part of the Great Twitter Migration, I'm doing several things.

For one, I'm giving my best shot at restarting my author newsletter. I sent a "not dead yet!" letter out yesterday and hope to return to a monthly schedule. Part of the secret is going to be not setting myself an unsustainable content goal. I'll just mention what's new and if I feel like adding "extras" I will, but I won't require it of myself.  If I keep to this enough to put out a December newsletter, I'm going to run a new subscribers campaign with the bait of a drawing for an audiobook. And because I dislike disincentivizing my current subscribers, I'll also have an opt-in drawing for a second audiobook.

Several months ago, I set up a Mastodon account as @heatherrosejones at the Wandering.Shop instance. Mastodon looks like it's "the new twitter" except without the corporate ownership and wide open gaps for abuse. Relying as it does on volunteer labor and voluntary financial support, it's a different type of thing than twitter, but that means a lot more local control over your experience there, while still being able to connect with people across (most of) the whole of the Mastodon federation. I'm not the person to explain Mastodon to you if you want to know more, but there should be plenty of explainers out there.

I need to explore using my HootSuite account to automate more of the routine content announcements across my social media. Currently I do a lot of manual posts for every blog and podcast and for book publicity. I have some content files set up for automatically posting links to older podcast content and mean to do that for older LHMP blog content, but it takes doing a lot of set-up. But if I'm remembering HootSuite's capabilities correctly, I should be able to create a "hey, here's a new podcast"  post there and set it up to send it to all my social media. Which would make things more efficient.

As always, if people want a more casual interactive social media experience loosely focused around my work, ask me for an invitation to join the Alpennia Discord. It's small, sporadic, and low impact and full of creative friendly people. (And I really do need to draft up a formal "expectations for conduct" document for it, so it'll be there if the Discord ever takes off.

And you know that you can always comment on this blog, right? Right? I know, I know, "Blogging is Dead." But a girl can dream.

What other things do you think it might be fun and/or useful to do in terms of social media? Given that I already have a YouTube channel for the LHMP, I've thought about adding (adapated) video chat versions of the LHMP book blogs. For some reason I don't recall, I set up an Instagram account. I haven't really done anything with it, but yesterday as a test post I put up a video of the otters in the Contra Costa Canal that I stopped to film on my bike ride. What does one do with an Instagram? What would *you* find fun or interesting? Keep in mind that my time and energy is finite, but it's so hard to guess what might hit a niche that I haven't thought of yet.

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Saturday, November 5, 2022 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 243 - On the Shelf for November 2022 - Transcript

(Originally aired 2022/11/05 - listen here)

Welcome to On the Shelf for November 2022.

I’m always tempted to make some sort of seasonal observation after noting the month, but seasons are so very contextual. Here in relatively-coastal California, November means that tomato season is finally winding down to a close and just this week I decided it was time to change out the air filter in the heater and turn on the thermostat for the winter. What was my clue? Probably the layer of cats that I’d find myself buried under every morning. OK, so two cats don’t make much of a layer, but still.

For me, the end of the year is either a chaos of traveling and events, or it’s time to retreat to my introvert-cave and try to recharge. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. This year, it’s the introvert cave. No more traveling until…well, I’m not sure when. The next thing I have on my calendar is in July, but I’m sure something will come up.

The wealth of virtual conferences that I can attend from my home office has changed the dynamic of thinking about book-related events. A few weeks ago, I was able to take part in an online mini-convention around sapphic speculative fiction, organized and hosted by Sheena Ebersohn of The Lesbian Review. Sheena has been doing some amazing things to support the lesbian and sapphic fiction community, and I always know when I’m invited to take part that it will be well-organized, well-run, and a joy to participate in. Even as many events are pivoting back to being in person or hybrid events that combine physical and virtual spaces, I think we’ve all realized the continuing potential for virtual events to expand our connections and to welcome those whose geographic or economic situation has historically restricted their access.

With the end of the year coming around, I’m ramping up the cheerleading for next year’s fiction series. Once again, we’ll be buying stories to air on the podcast. Please help spread the word to authors who might feel inspired to submit something for our consideration. This will be our sixth year airing fiction. Somehow I keep thinking about the fiction series as being a recent addition to the show, but we’ve been doing fiction shows for two thirds of the podcast’s lifetime. I love being able to bring you new stories and to support the authors who are writing them. I hope you’re enjoying them just as much!

Publications on the Blog

For the last month, the Lesbian Historic Motif Project blog has been doing something drastically different from our usual: publishing a translation of a historic document that sheds light on attitudes and beliefs around gender and sexuality in mid-18th century France. The legal appeal of Anne, or Jean-Baptiste, Grandjean against a charge of “profaning the sacrament of marriage” by being a woman married to a woman raises questions about the interaction of legal, social, and internal gender identities, changing understandings of the relationship between gender and desire, and the challenges of interpreting even the most factual of documents when everyone involved has a vested interest in spinning those facts for their own protection and survival.

I’ve presented a couple of shorter texts in translation previously but this is my most ambitious project to date in that field. I won’t claim that the result would meet scholarly standards, but it’s certainly been an enjoyable adventure.

I’d like to return to blogging shorter journal articles for a while—though journal articles can be just as much work as entire books to turn into summaries. As my day-job has shifted to including one day a week in Berkeley at the physical worksite, it will be easy to spend some evenings at the U.C. Berkeley library downloading material from JSTOR. The change in work schedule is adding an enjoyable variety to my schedule, though I’m glad I’ll still be working from home for the most part.

Recent Lesbian Historical Fiction

And now it’s time for the new book listings. I’m already looking forward to my year-end analysis of trends in sapphic historicals, because I’ve been noticing some trends on an anecdotal basis that I’d like to verify. One of those trends is stories set between the two world wars, whether you call it the Roaring 20s, the Jazz Age, or the Lost Generation. I should do a special round-up of titles in that era at some point.

The one October book I’m catching up on is set in that era. The Veronica Nash series by A.J. Matthews follows two British women through a series of mysteries. I hadn’t identified the characters as sapphic previously, due to the lack of any clear signifiers in the cover copy, but the 8th book, Death on the Rocks, from Extasy Books, Inc. specifically mentions the couple being on a honeymoon, so you might want to circle back and start the series at the beginning.

Death drops in. Veronica and Claire’s delayed honeymoon on the French Riviera is interrupted when a man falls onto their beach. Did Hollywood mogul Solly Myers fall—or was he pushed? He’d plenty of enemies, but negotiating the tangle of friendships and betrayals to uncover the truth is no easy task—especially after one fateful night in the casino.

The November books don’t include any particularly early settings—all from the Regency onward through the mid-20th century, and all set either in England or the USA or a fantasy version of one of them.

Her Vixen Actress (Ladylike Inclinations #2) self-published by Violet Cowper, is a working-class Regency romance with a lot of passion.

England, 1782. Grace Dashwood longs to woo London’s theater-goers. But the up-and-coming actress’s glamorous good looks and sexy charm aren’t enough to win her a place on the city’s cutthroat stage. Until she meets an earnest lady playwright who has the connections she covets… and a ravishing beauty she wants to explore. Frances Smythe clings to her prim-and-proper manner. So the quiet writer’s patience stretches to a breaking point with the redheaded whirlwind of a performer, even as she senses the first red- hot sparks of passion. But when she finally yields to the woman’s dramatic pleas for aid, she’s rewarded with a delectable kiss that leaves her aching for more taboo trysts. Shocked to have caught a wealthy man’s eye, Grace can’t bring herself to accept his patronage in the face of her unexplored desires. But Frances’s fear of intimacy plunges the duo into an impossible limbo as she refuses to fully commit her emotions. Will their tangled connection get tied up in knots or weave a tapestry of happily ever after?

There’s something about the Regency era that inspires authors to toss magic into the mix, and Lady Liesl's Seaside Surprise (Teacup Magic #4) self-published by Tansy Rayner Roberts, offers a sapphic romance in a magical Regency series. I’ve been a fan of Tansy’s work for quite some time—especially on the now-retired podcast Galactic Suburbia—and I’m very much looking forward to reading this story.

Lady Liesl, fourth daughter of the Earl of Sandwich, always thought her fate was to marry well, and live a perfect life like her older sisters. Now she's had a taste of rebellion, and she likes it... Hunting a missing diamond in a remote seaside town on behalf of a runaway Countess, Liesl finds herself at the mysterious Aphrodite Villa, with a sinister lack of servants, and no household magic in sight... not to mention a parlour full of wild, bohemian artists, including the devilishly seductive Perdita. This is the Teacup Isles, where nothing is quite as it seems. Lady Liesl is about to uncover some surprising secrets about her family and herself.

Due to the nature of source material on women who loved women in history, even writing something relatively biographical can require a lot of fictionalizing. That Dickinson Girl: A Novel of the Civil War (Forgotten Women #1) by Joan Koster from Tidal Waters Press is loosely based on the life of a forgotten orator, feminist, and lesbian, Anna Dickinson, This is the story of her rise to fame and fortune at the expense of love during the political and social turmoil of the American Civil War.

Eighteen-year-old Anna Dickinson is nothing like the women around her, and she knows it. Gifted with a powerful voice, a razor-sharp wit, and unbounded energy, the diminutive curly head sets out to surpass the men of her day as she rails against slavery and pushes for women’s rights. There are only two things that can bring her downfall—the entangling love she has for her devoted companion, Julia, and an assassin’s bullet. Forced to accompany the fiery young orator on her speaking tour of New England, Julia Pennington fights her growing attraction to ever more impertinent woman. When a traitor sets out to assassinate Anna, will Julia risk her life to save her?

There has long been a close connection between gothic literature and queer-coded female characters. Now we can get stories where we don’t need to rely on ambiguous coding, as in The Secret of Matterdale Hall by Marianne Ratcliffe from Bellows Press.

Susan Mottram lives an idyllic existence until her eighteenth birthday, when her father’s sudden death plunges the family into penury. To support her mother and younger sister, Susan takes employment as a teacher at a remote Yorkshire boarding school, Matterdale Hall, owned by the radical Dr. Claybourn and his penny-pinching wife. Susan soon discovers that all is not as it seems. Why is little Mary so silent? What really happened to Susan’s predecessor? Is anyone safe in the school’s draughty halls? Through a life-changing meeting with the beautiful and mysterious Cassandra, Susan begins to uncover the truth about Matterdale Hall, and discovers the cruelty, and love, that can lie within the human heart.

One of the anecdotal patterns I’ve been noticing, though one that probably doesn’t rise to the level of statistical significance, is for a romantic historic fantasy series where the second book features a female couple. This can create a dilemma for those of us with somewhat focused reading tastes: read the series from the beginning to get the full set-up? Or cherry-pick the book with the characters we find intriguing and hope we’ll get the background from context? I tend to do the latter, I’m afraid.

The latest series I’ve seen with this structure is A Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske from

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth's life have happened to her brother Robin, but she's ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she's ready for an adventure. What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

Hot Keys by R.E. Ward from Bold Strokes Books is another Jazz Age romance, adding to my perception that we have a trend going on.

In 1920s New York City, it’s hard on the streets, but Betty May Dewitt and her best friend, Jack Norval, are determined to make their Tin Pan Alley dreams come true. Fate leads them to a speakeasy called the Trespass Inn, where people play fast and loose and criminals run the show. Betty and Jack are whisked into the glamorous and dangerous world of Prohibition rum-running, but fate has more in store for them than adventure. Romance blooms when a psychic medium’s magic dazzles Betty, and a gangster infuriates and fascinates Jack all at the same time. But danger lurks in every alley, and with the Trespass Inn under attack by rival gangsters, Betty and Jack will have to fight—not only for their hearts and dreams, but for their lives.

I’m not entirely sure of the intended era for the historic fantasy Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk from The cover copy calls it a “period piece” and some reviews mention the 1940s, so I guess we’ll go with that.

A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago's divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above. An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother's life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can't resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves. To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago's most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.

And we’ll finish up with another story from the 1940s, but purely historical this time: Enigma by Suzie Clarke from Bold Strokes Books.

There is a time for courage, a time for sacrifice, a time for love. In the fall of 1941, the United States Office of American Defense summons agent Polly Silvester to find an elusive spy. Critical information about aircraft designs, production numbers, and flight schedules vital to America’s safety are being stolen from the Portage Aircraft plant in Barberton, Ohio. And the spy is most likely a woman. Polly’s orders are simple. Find the spy—whatever the cost or sacrifice. Polly has taken an oath to protect and serve her country, but the spy she’s hunting may be the love of her life. Desperate times and impossible choices skew the line between what’s right and what matters. Can Polly do what she must when everything is on the line?

What Am I Reading?

So what have I been consuming lately? Audiobooks are dominating my list, though I did read a paper copy of P. Djèlí Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015. It’s a novella set in the same magical alternate early 20th century Egypt as the novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo, which I also listened to this month, and the novel A Master of Djinn, which I listened to back in May. The latter two feature Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi and her girlfriend who…well, that would be a spoiler. Fatma will ensnare the heart of every reader who likes a dapper butch detective. I missed that aspect when A Master of Djinn came out last year and failed to include it in the new book listings.

I also listened to the audio version of a medieval Arabic tale The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman: The Arabic Epic of Dhat Al-Himma, translated by Melanie Magidow. Despite the focus of the narrative on a supremely competent warrior woman who becomes the leader of her clan, defeating rival families and Byzantine crusaders alike, the story needs a lot of content warnings for misogyny, sexual coercion and rape, and just plain annoying relatives. But embedded within the historic context is a casual acceptance of fictional women warriors and of female same-sex desire, though the latter gets only a brief mention in passing.

I also listened to a couple of short Audible Original historicals. The Audible Originals being free with the account means they don’t have to work quite as hard to catch my attention. K.J. Charles offers her standard fare of gay male historical romance with a Regency-set enemies-to-lovers caper in A Thief in the Night. I was a bit less enchanted by Sarah Page’s Mrs. Wickham which endeavors to redeem the character of the charming and amoral pair from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The writing was ok, but I had a hard time buying Mr. Wickham’s change of personality that was the core of the happy ending.


I hope you enjoyed our most recent fiction episode, “The Wolf that Sings on the Mountain” by Miyuki Jane Pinckard. The author is here to join us to talk about the story and her writing.

[A transcription of the interview will be available at a later date.]

Show Notes

Your monthly roundup of history, news, and the field of sapphic historical fiction.

In this episode we talk about:

Links to the Lesbian Historic Motif Project Online

Links to Heather Online

Links to Miyuki Jane Pinckard Online

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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.}

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