Girls grow male organs and turn into boys at age 12 in Caribbean village

Girls grow male organs and turn into boys at age 12 in Caribbean village
Published: 2015 September 21 08:25:18 (8659 Views)
In the small village of Salinas in the Barahona Province of the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic, at puberty one in 90 children born there makes a natural transformation from girl to boy.

Referred to as the 'guevedoces' which literally translates as 'penis at 12' - these children are known in medical terms as 'pseudohermaphrodite' - and feature in a new BBC 2 series called Countdown to Life - the Extraordinary Making of You.

"I remember I used to wear a little red dress," said Johnny who at 24 was once known as Felecitia and did not have a male organ.

"I was born at home instead of in a hospital.

"They didn't know what sex I was.

"I went to school and I used to wear my skirt. I never liked to dress as a girl.

"When they bought me girls toys I never bothered playing with them. All I wanted to do was play with the boys."

The guevedoces were uncovered by Cornell University endocrinologist Dr Julianne Imperato in the 1970s who travelled to the region to learn more about rumours that girls were morphing into boys.



And in the four decades since there have been studies, more has been learned about the perfectly natural condition.

Believed to have transpired through a rare genetic disorder, the condition is caused by a missing enzyme that prevents the production the male sex hormone - dihydro-testosterone - in the womb - and creates what looks like a baby girl at birth.

It is not until puberty, when testosterone flows, their voices break and they grow a male sexual reproductive organ that they become recognised as male.

BBC presenter Dr Michael Mosley said: "I hated going through puberty; voice cracking, swinging moods, older brother laughing at me. But compared to Johnny, I had it easy.

"Guevedoces are also sometimes called "machihembras" meaning "first a woman, then a man."

"When Dr Imperato investigated the Guavadoces she discovered the reason they don't have male genitalia at birth is because they are deficient in an enzyme called 5-α-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone.

"By a quirk of chance Dr Imperato's research was picked up by the American pharmaceutical giant, Merck.

"They used her discovery to create a drug called finasteride, which blocks the action of 5-α-reductase.

"It is now widely used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate and male pattern baldness. For which, I'm sure, many men are truly grateful."



Source - Mirror

Tags: girls, boys, genetic,
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