A striking village where little girls turn into boys

Biologically and physically Johnny refers to the male sex. But in fact he did not have a penis before puberty. He is one of many children in the village of Salina, an isolated settlement of the Dominican Republic, where boys are born as girls and become men only in their teens.

Johnny, who was born as a girl, turned into a boy at the age of 7.
Although Johnny's story seems unusual, the cases of turning girls into boys in the village are numerous. Such children are simply called "guevedoces which means "penis to 12".

Johnny is now 24 years old, and he used to be called Felicity. He remembers that he was wearing a red dress. Johnny was born at home, and not at the hospital, his parents did not know exactly what sex the child was. He was sent to school in a skirt, but he never liked to dress like a girl. Toys for girls did not interest him, but he always wanted to play with boys.

The reason for the conversion turned out to be a rare genetic disease associated with the lack of an enzyme responsible for the production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone in the fetus.

All children in the mother's womb, boys and girls, have internal sex glands or gonads and a small process between the legs. Approximately on the eighth week of development, boys with Y-chromosomes begin to produce dihydrotestosterone in large numbers, and the process becomes a penis. At girls it develops into a clitoris.

But children without the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which triggers the production of the hormone, are born by girls without testicles and vagina. And only at the age of 12, under the influence of the second hormone release, they have male genital organs and the voice becomes low.

Johnny survived the transformation into seven years and is very happy about this, because he never felt like a girl.

Another little girl Carla now passes through this transformation at the age of 9 years. Although she was raised as a girl, at about five she began to behave like a boy. Now she wears a short haircut, although braids have braided before.

"I feel like a man says Carla. Many boys decide to keep their names given at birth. Because some men in the village have female names.

With guevedoces, the endocrinologist Julian Imperato (Dr Julianne Imperato) from the University of Cornell (Cornell University) first encountered in 1970 while traveling the Dominican Republic. Later similar cases of sexual transformations were detected in the village of Sambian in Papua New Guinea. However, there such children are born with pathologies of vision and do not consider the transformation a holiday, as residents of the Dominican Republic.

Katerina and her cousin Carla (BBC / Jon Sayers)

Guedovedov (guevedoces) is also sometimes called "machihembras" which means "first a woman, after a man". When they are born, they look like girls, as there are no eggs, and there is something like a vagina. And only during puberty penis grows and testicles appear.

When Dr. Imperato explored the guedoved, she discovered the reason why they do not have male genitalia at birth, the reason is the lack of the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which turns testosterone into dihydrotestosterone

After the discovery of 5-alpha-reductase, the pharmaceutical company Merck created the drug Finasteride, which blocks the production of the enzyme. The drug is used for benign prostatic hyperplasia and male pattern baldness.

On average, approximately 1 child per 90 born in Salinas - guvedoved. Adult guevedos differ from normal sexually mature men by a smaller amount of vegetation on the face and the size of the prostate gland. Genetic pathology was developed due to the isolated way of life of the settlement. Now in the Dominican Republic recognize the existence of men, women and pseudohermaphrodites.

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