The Rare Medical Condition That Hides Child's Sex until Age 12

A BBC documentary done by Michael Mosley which aired last week showed a rare genetic condition in which children appear female at birth but later develop a penis testes around the time they reach puberty.

The documentary tells the story of some children in the Dominican republic with this rare condition and are commonly referred to in the country as the Guevedoces which translates to "penis at 12" . The story also focused on one such child named Johnny who was raised as a girl but when he matured and neared puberty things took a different turn and he grew a penis and testicles.

According to scientist, children with this condition are genetically male, which means they have one X and one Y chromosomes but during their development in their mother's womb a genetic mutations prevents their bodies from converting the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone  (DHT).

The lack of DHT means that the male sex organs don't develop properly and therefore the real sex of the child is not seen at birth and is only triggers when the child reaches puberty.

When children with this condition are born, they are normally confused as female, or in some cases heir organs appear ambiguous and they grow up like that until puberty when their testosterone levels increase and they start to grow a penis and scrotum which is sometimes followed by other male features like a deep voice and muscle mass.

When Johnny spoke to BBC he told" I never liked to dress up like a girl, and when they brought me toys for girls, I never bothered playing with them - when i saw a group of boys, I would stop to play ball with them"

The Dominican republic is not alone with such cases, according to the National Health Institute, such cases have also been reported in other countries including Turkey, Egypt and Papua New Guinea.

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