I have nearly finished writing the novel The Choice of a Countess, based on a true story of R.B.
Countess. Duchess. Butcher. Businesswoman. Singer. Intersex. The pathways of human experience are multifaceted but there is one rule to follow to profit from them. You have to be a woman or a man.
The book tells a story of R. B.. Hailing from a noble Italian family, R. B. was born in rural France in the 1950s. Identified at birth as a boy, her parents registered her as Guy. When Guy turned five, the family doctor noticed that the child lacked testicles. At the time the doctor thought that there was no danger to Guy’s health and suggested they wait until the adolescence, hoping that the testicles would descend with time.
Things got particularly bad for Guy at school. His private parts were unusually small, the classmates laughed at him. He isolated himself and was stigmatized even by the teachers. His parents, fearing that their son was a homosexual, insisted on Guy becoming a butcher—to ensure his masculine identity.
At the age of 17, he left the countryside and moved to Lyon, where he went to see an endocrinologist, who put a word to what was happening to him: Hermaphroditism – a term used at the time for Intersex. Lost in his duality, ashamed of himself, considered a failure by his family, Guy decided to choose one sex, go through a seven-year treatment and surgery to become a woman.
Being one sex made it easier to integrate into society. After completing the surgery and changing identity papers, R. B.—the name she had chosen for her new life—launched a private membership Club on the French Riviera. Achieving her greatest goal as a woman, she married a well-known jet-setter 17 years her junior. Betrayed by the vice president of her club, and falsely accused of drug dealing and pimping, she was forced to close the club. By then divorced from her first husband, she got married a second time to her young partner from the Baltic Sea countries, to save him from jail and from being deported.
Born a Countess, she was in the meantime ordained a Duchess of the Order of the Templars and of the Syrian Church of Antioch and became an honorary citizen of the Principality of Seborga. R. B.’s second marriage did not last.
She moved to Marrakech to open a trendy restaurant, La Bohème, on Djemaa el-Fna Square, but had to close down after a terrorist explosion in 2011, which has severely impacted the tourism industry in Morocco. Her attempts to live like an ordinary woman continued, as she opened new restaurants and moved to Martinique, where she owned a Red Beach restaurant and night club.
However, deep inside herself she knew that she was still intersex. R. B. hid her secret until recently, when she went public. She participated in TV shows in France, talking about people like herself to make it easier for them to live and to raise the cloud of secrecy that surrounded intersex people.