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It can be quite strange for one to come to terms with the phenomenon of puberty. However, it is an entirely different feeling that the Guevedoce children of Dominican Republic go through. They actually seem to switch their sex once they reach adolescence. Micheal Mosley covered the news in a BBC series called Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You.
Guevedoces which literally translates to ‘penis at 12’ are also known as machihembras meaning ‘first a woman, then a man’. Apparently, it affects slightly more than one percent of boys in a remote village lying southwest of Dominican Republic called Salinas.
The kids appear totally female at the time of their birth and are even brought up as though they would grow up to become little girls. To be clear, they do not bear testes but what seems like a vagina instead. Though, a penis begins to grow and testicles start to descend as soon as they reach puberty. They then grow up to be fully completely functional male members of the society. Understandably, their biological heritage can not be disguised. Besides being a bit undersized, these people are able to live like men, bearing small prostates and wispy beards.
It turns out that this biological state is not restricted to Dominican Republic; it is even observed in New Guinea and Turkey. Mosley had a moment to chat with a Guevedoce who was raised as a little girl named Felicita. As soon as she turned 7, she underwent quite the transition. She felt awkward, had no desire of wearing a skirt anymore and no wish to play with other girls. As Felicita turned Johnny grew fond of playing with guns and boys, he also underwent physical changes leading to the growth of a penis and a pair of testicles.
It appears that this condition is a result of a deficiency of enzyme 5-α-reductase. The human body is unable to manufacture the male sex hormone called Dihydrotestosterone in the absence of this enzyme. This keeps the development of male sex organs from taking place. This study has even led to the foundation of a medicine called Finasteride that fights male pattern baldness and prostate enlargement.