Salinas, Dominican Republic is a small remote village where something unbelievable has been happening for quite sometime: girls turn into boys at the age of 12. This is real.
The phenomenon has been dubbed “guevedoces” (penis at 12) or machihembra (male females). It’s a genetic disorder that affects fetuses who are missing an enzyme that prohibits testosterone from becoming dihydro-testosterone, which is what helps develop a penis in the womb and, hence, are born girls. But! Once they start producing a lot more testosterone during puberty, these girls grow a penis.
24-year-old Johnny, for example, was born as Felecitia up until the age of puberty. He talked to BBC2 for a new series “Countdown to Life – The Extraordinary Making of You”.
“I remember I used to wear a little red dress,” he said. “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.”
Like him, one in 90 babies are girls at birth and become boys during puberty. Some don’t even change their names. So there are boys who are named Catherine, for example. Since it’s so common and accepted in the Dominican Republic, they now consider having three sex categories male, female, and pseudohermaphrodite.
Read more about the rare genetic phenomenon The Telegraph here.