The Amazing Case Of The Girls Who Become Boys At Twelve

3 min read
The Amazing Case Of The Girls Who Become Boys At Twelve

For most parents, the gender of the baby doesn’t matter as much as having a happy, healthy child ready to take on the world. But what would you do if your daughter suddenly became a son?

No, we aren’t talking about transgender kids who have the hard journey of medication and surgeries to get them into the bodies they belong to. We’re talking about a natural transition that turns girls into boys, without any outside influence.

In the Dominican Republic, there’s a village where this isn’t just a fantastical theory, but something that is happening every day. They call them Guevedoces, literally ‘penis at twelve’. They’re girls who, on the cusp of puberty, begin to undergo an extraordinary transition that sees them growing a penis and becoming a man. Amazingly, despite having been raised as girls by their families, most slip effortlessly into their new identity, having known that this is where they belong.

Guevedoces | Stay At Home Mum
Johnny, a guevedoce (via

The reason behind the Guevedoces begins in the womb. When a baby is conceived it will have a set of XY chromosomes if it’s going to be a boy, and a pair of X chromosomes if it will be a girl. All babies get gonads and a tube-like structure called the tubercle. Then, around 8 weeks after a baby is conceived those sex hormones ramp up, and while those X chromosomes create a clitoris and ovaries in females, the Y chromosome in males tells them to make their gonads into testicles, and send testosterone to the tubercle. It is here that testosterone becomes the more powerful dihydrotestosterone, which is responsible for turning the tubercle into a penis.

The Case of the Guevedoces

However, in the case of the Guevedoces, they’re missing a crucial enzyme (called 5-alpha-reductase) that is responsible for making normal testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. This means the penis never grows until puberty, when another massive rush of testosterone floods the system, and is enough to grow the penis. Interestingly at this point, the dihydrotestosterone isn’t required, meaning there’s no longer anything stopping those who are lacking that enzyme.

Guevedoces | Stay At Home Mum
Via Pinterest

Nobody is quite sure why this exceedingly rare phenomenon is so common in just one place in the Dominican Republic, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for the families of the boys in transition. In some cases, parents aren’t willing to accept that their daughter will become a son. In others, the children identify as girls even after the change, and undergo surgery to retain their female identities. In the best case scenario, in terms of keeping things natural, parents already know at some level that their daughter is in fact a son. They’re able to accept their child’s wishes, and allow them to make the transition that is coming with ease.

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Oceana Setaysha

Senior Writer A passionate writer since her early school days, Oceana has graduated from writing nonsense stories to crafting engaging content for...Read Morean online audience. She enjoys the flexibility to write about topics from lifestyle, to travel, to family. Although not currently fulfilling the job of parent, her eight nieces and nephews keep her, and her reluctant partner, practiced and on their toes. Oceana holds a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Writing and Indonesian, and has used her interest in languages to create a career online. She's also the resident blonde at, where she shares her, slightly dented, wisdom on photography, relationships, travel, and the quirks of a creative lifestyle. Read Less

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