Wonder shall never end: It is public knowledge that girls born on the the Caribbean village of Salinas allegedly turn into boys and grow penises when they hit puberty due to a rare genetic disorder linked to a missing enzyme.
One in 90 children born in the village located in the Dominican Republic will have made the genetic transition by the time they reach the age of 12.
Medical experts theorise that missing enzyme which prevents the production of a type of male sex hormone – dihydro-testosterone – in the womb is the reason for the puberty-induced gender.
All babies in the womb, whether male or female, have internal glands known as gonads and a small bump between their legs called a tubercle.
Male babies who carry the Y chromosome start to produce the dihydro-testosterone hormone in large amounts at around eight weeks old. This then turns the tubercle into a penis and for females, the tubercle becomes a clitoris.
But for some male babies, the missing 5-α-reductase enzyme – which triggers the hormone surge – means they appear to be born female with no testes and what looks very much like a vagina.
At puberty, a large rise of testosterone triggers the male reproductive organs to grow, causing voices to deepen and a penis to develop.
The reverse is the case for children born with the genetic condition – a hormone surge means development that should have taken place in the womb happens around 12 years later.
The genetic condition is a norm in this village due to its frequency.