- Category : 1838-births
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Sphinx 4
French hermaphrodite, born in the eighteenth century with ambiguous genitalia and was consigned the female sex, named Adelaide-Herculine Barbin. She was usually called Alexina. Her father, a sabot maker, died some time early in her life and when she was age seven her destitute mother accepted the offer of a Mother Superior in a convent. Barbin was moved from the hospital where she had lived since birth into a Catholic orphanage where she lived as a pious girl, 1845-53.
From 1853-56 she lived in La Rochelle as a boarding student. In the following two years she completed her teaching certificate at the normal school of Oleron at the top of her class. During this time she cut away with scissors the light down growing on her upper lips and cheeks and kept her body concealed when the female trainee teachers went swimming.
From 1858-60 she became schoolmistress at a nearby town, falling passionately in love with Sara, another schoolmistress. They moved from bedmates to lovers.
In 1860 Barbin returned to La Rochelle and confided her predicaments to a bishop who sent her to a doctor. The doctor's reports revealed that Barbin in her 22nd year was 1.59m (five foot two) and had brown hair. She was androgynous when dressed, but with a man's chest, slightly brown and hairy upper arms, hips and pelvis of a man, and buttocks and thighs covered in abundant black hair. Barbin had never menstruated. A sort of clitoris-penis of about 5cm (one and a half to two inches) long -- or an imperforate "little member" -- was located between two prominent hairy labia majora which were "only the two halves of a scrotum that remained divided." A centimeter (four-tenths of an inch) below the "penis" was an urethral opening that was "completely feminine" through which she would urinate and apparently pass sperm. Between the urethra and anus there was an orifice nearly 5cm (two inches) deep, a cul-de-sac with recto-vaginal walls, but no cervix.
Barbin was subsequently renamed "Abel" instead of "Adelaide-Herculine" with the changes made on her birth certificate on 22 June 1860 to officially reclassify her as a man. Abel's story was reported in the press in July 1860.
Moving to Paris, Abel became an employee of the railroad administration, continuing his correspondence with Sara. He committed suicide close to age 30 (in February 1868) --asphyxiating himself with carbon dioxide by means of a charcoal stove in a miserable attic in Paris. Barbin was alone and he left a letter saying he had killed himself in order to escape the sufferings that constantly obsessed him.