This is not science fiction. It’s a fascinating case of genetics!
In the Dominican Republic village of Salinas babies are born with no visible penis or testes, and what appears to be a vagina. As puberty sets in around age 12, these ‘girls’ begin to grow a penis and testes. Prior to this transformation they live their lives as girls, and their parents do not know whether they will transform (it is impossible to tell from just looking.)
The transformation is so common and accepted that these gender-shifting youth have a name, ‘guevedoces’, which translates to ‘penis at 12’. Many boys even keep their female name.
A little girl named Carla is currently going through the same transformation, aged nine. Despite being brought up as a girl, his mother noticed that from the age of five he was more inclined towards the rough and tumble play of little boys. He has recently had his hair cut short after wearing plaits for years.
“I feel like a man now,” he said.
Many decide not to change from their female names, so some men in Salinas have names like Catherine.
But how does this happen?!
The rare genetic disorder occurs because of a missing enzyme which prevents the production of a specific form of the male sex hormone — dihydro-testosterone — in the womb.
All babies in the womb, whether male or female, have internal glands known as gonads and a small bump between their legs called a tubercle. At around eight weeks, male babies who carry the Y chromosome start to produce dihydro-testosterone in large amounts, which turns the tubercle into a penis. For females, the tubercle becomes a clitoris.
But some male babies are missing the enzyme 5-?-reductase which triggers the hormone surge, so they appear to be born female with no testes and what appears to be a vagina. It is not until puberty, when another huge surge of testosterone is produced, that the male reproductive organs emerge. What should have happened in the womb happens around 12 years later. Their voices deepen and they finally grow a penis.
This phenomenon also has a high occurrence in the Papua New Guinean village of Sambia, although it is not as accepted.
Ladies, what do you think?