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ABSTRACT. The consideration of bisexuation, as a biological phenomenon, was variable in law history. At first, the hermaphrodite was considered a prodigy in antiquity before to be inserted in a legal system modeled on binary classification which was strictly organized around masculinity and femininity. Roman jurists and after them the medieval canonists refuted the proven existence of both male and female sexes in one body. With very few exceptions, this orientation persisted in the Ancien Régime, during which this physiological particularity was analyzed as deviant sexual practices and, as a consequence, condemnable. The study of several trials against hermaphrodites shows the social embarrassment caused by sexual ambivalent. This strange physiognomy was enough to suggest he was a criminal. Nowadays, French legal system is fortunately milder but it remains shaped around a unique and defined sex as stated in the person’s birth certificate. Therefore it fails to recognize the concept of third gender. pp. 11–27

Keywords: hermaphroditism, deviance, identity, law, history

ARNAUD PATURET
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CNRS UMR 7074 CTAD/ENS, Paris, France

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