A relatively fair portion of babies born as girls in the village of Salinas, in the Dominican Republic are reportedly becoming boys when they reach puberty due to a rare genetic disorder. According to the forthcoming BBC2 series Countdown to Life – the Extraordinary Making of You, via the Sun UK, one-in-90 children born in Salinas grow a penis in a natural transformation from female to male. These youngsters are referred to in medical terms as “pseudohermaphrodite,” but the transformation process is known in the village as the guevedoces, which translates to “penis at 12.” It is such a common occurrence to be a pseudohermaphrodite in Salinas, that it is accepted as a third sex.
The Sun newspaper reports of a 24-year-old Johnny profiled by the BBC, who is physically and biologically male but grew up as a girl named Felicitia. As a child like all those born with this condition, Felicitia was born with no testes and what looks like a vagina. The child wore skirts but quietly rejected the female identity and would not play with dolls and only wanted to play with boys. This phenomenon is caused by a missing enzyme dihydro-testosterone which prevents male sex hormones being released in the uterus, but when the child reaches puberty, a testosterone surge makes the male reproductive organs grow, although their prostates remain small.