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Today In WTF News: Girls In A Remote Village Turn Into 'Boys' At The Age Of 12

Aiza Seguerra would approve.
by Mary Rose A. Hogaza | Sep 23, 2015
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Puberty is the craziest stage every boy has to go through. Your body changes, and so does everything else. But believe us, you had it easy compared to the kids from the village of Salinas in the Caribbean Island's Barahona Province.

Some babies from the remote area were apparently born girls—but turn into men during puberty due to a genetic deformity called "Guevedoce," which literally means "penis at twelve."

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Around one in 90 children born in Salinas have the rare genetic condition.

Johnny, who was brought up as a girl named Felicita, remembers going to school in a little red dress.

"I never liked to dress as a girl and when they bought me toys for girls I never bothered playing with them," Johnny tells BBC in the documentary series Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You. "When I saw a group of boys I would stop to play ball with them."

Along with his change of heart came the change of his privates: he grew a penis and testicles.

However, it wasn't easy for him. He was teased by the folks around him obviously because his condition is hardly imaginable to happen.

BBC also had an encounter with Carla, soon to be called Carlos, who is said to be going through the same transition.

"When she turned five, I noticed that whenever she saw one of her male friends, she wanted to fight with him," her mother says. "Her muscles and chest began growing. You could see she was going to be a boy. I love her however she is. Girl or boy, it makes no difference."

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Why does it happen? One of the first people to study this unusual conditional was Dr. Juliann McGinley from Cornell Medical College in New York. She explains that at conception, we all inherit a set of genes from our parents that will in time instruct our bodies to make us male or female. After eight weeks, male babies who carry the Y chromosome start to produce a type of testosterone that turns the tubercle into a penis. As for Johnny and Carla, they are missing the enzyme that triggers the hormone to surge.

At puberty, there is another surge of testosterone, and in these cases a penis grows and testicles descend. Experts sum it up as thus: What should have happened in the womb, happens about 12 years later.

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