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Guevedoces The strange story of how girls turn into boys at puberty

Due to a hormonal effect, girls become boys when they hit puberty in the village of Salinas, in Dominican Republic.

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Johnny with his cousin who is also a pre-puberty guevedoces play

Johnny with his cousin who is also a pre-puberty guevedoces

(BBC )

In the tiny village of Salinas in the Dominican Republic, a strange thing happens.

Believe it or not but some girls change into boys when they approach puberty. These kids who undergo this transformation are called 'Guevedoces' which literally means 'penis at twelve'.

How is this possible? How do girls become boys suddenly? This is as a result of a rare genetic disorder. The enzyme necessary for the production of a male sex hormone called dihydrotestosterone in the womb goes missing.

Johnny is now happy he is a man play

Johnny is now happy he is a man

(Telegraph )


Dihydrotestosterone is produced by male babies when they are eight weeks in the womb which turns their tubercles into penises.

In Salinas, many male babies are born without dihydrotestosterone which is necessary for the development of the penis. At birth, they look like girls with what appears to be a vagina.

It is however at puberty that what was supposed to happen in the womb finally kicks off due to the immense boost of testosterone. With the boost, male reproductive organs start to appear.

Johnny who lives in Salina was initially a girl but when puberty appeared his male organs appeared, and now he is a boy.

"I remember I used to wear a little red dress. 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" Johnny told Telegraph.

A guevedoces cutting his hair play

A guevedoces cutting his hair

(BBC )


For Johnny, the change came early, at the age of 7. "When I changed I was happy with my life."

This gender change is no longer strange to the inhabitants of the village. In Sambian villages of Papua New Guinea, this sex change occurs too but the boys who undergo this change are not accepted with open hearts. They are seen as flawed men.

This phenomenon of gender switch has led to the creation of a drug that is now used in the treatment of enlarged prostates and male pattern baldness.

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