The story of the village where little girls become boys at the age of 12 is almost unbelievable.
According to TheTelegraphUK, some children in Salinas, an isolated village in the southwestern Dominican Republic, are born female only to become men in their teenage years and it is so common in the village that it is no longer considered abnormal.
The children are simply referred to as the ‘guevedoces,’ which means “penis at 12”
For Johnny, a 24-year old girl turned boy at the age of 7, he said,
“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. When I changed I was happy with my life. I feel like a man now.”
The guevedoces were first discovered by a Cornell University endocrinologist, Dr Julianne Imperato, in the 1970s, who travelled to Dominican Republic after hearing rumours about girls turning into boys.
More cases have been seen in the Sambian villages of Papua New Guinea.
Guevedoces are also called “machihembras” meaning “first a woman, then a man.”
When they are born, they look like girls with no testes and what looks like a vagina. It is when they near puberty that the penis grows and testicles move down.
When Dr Imperato investigated the Guavadoces, she discovered the reason they don’t have male genitalia at birth is because they lack an enzyme called 5-α-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone.
Thankfully Dr. Imperato’s research was picked up by the American pharmaceutical giant, Merck, and her discovery was used 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.