Güevedoces: people who change sex at puberty?

The process of fetal development in the mother’s womb closes a whole network of chemical and organic reactions that make the baby’s evolution possible. But this development which functions like a perfect machine is sometimes altered, causing all kinds of organic anomalies.

This is the case of güevedoces, a very curious phenomenon quite common in the Dominican Republic. in which some girls, on entering puberty, undergo some kind of natural sex change.

    Who are the güevedoces?

    Güevedoces is a nickname given to a series of people in the Dominican Republic born with a chromosomal disorder imperceptible at the time of birth caused by the following phenomenon: Babies born with the appearance of ambiguous genitalia, and who are usually assigned the female sex, who experience a process of masculinization at puberty.

    These people actually have male (XY) chromosomes. However, during fetal development, they develop by developing genital ambiguity. At the time of birth, they tend to be assigned as female, and at puberty, around age 12, there is penile growth and testicular descent.

    Moreover, if there is one thing that makes this phenomenon even more fascinating, it is that it occurs almost insignificantly all over the world but, however, in the province of Barahona, in the Dominican Republic, it appears in about 1 in 50 births in which the sex of the baby is determined to be female. Due to this large number of cases, taking into account the incidence of this disease in the world population, children born with these characteristics are called güevedoces.

    A type of pseudointersexuality

    This genital disorder, considered a type of male pseudointersexuality, Was first described in the Dominican Republic in the 1970s by American physician and endocrinologist Julianne Imperato-McGinley. As a result of studies and research on people with these characteristics, it was determined that güevedoces suffered from a deficiency of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.

    Deficiency of this enzyme causes a physical alteration known as hereditary male pseudointersexuality. Appropriate levels of this enzyme result essential for the conversion of testosterone to dihitestosteroneIf this does not happen due to a lack of 5-alpha reductase, masculinization of the external genitalia during fetal development cannot be carried out.

    In the specific case of güevedoces, the increase in testosterone levels during puberty generates a response in the body, causing the penis to grow and the testicles to descend.

      How do they develop physically?

      Usually during the development of the first weeks of gestation andThe fetus has no specification regarding the sexual organsOnly nipple development occurs in both sexes. Then, around eight weeks gestation, the sex hormones kick in again.

      Birth and childhood

      If the baby is genetically determined to be male, the Y chromosome it is responsible for the transformation of the gonads into testes send testosterone to the tuber, where it becomes the hormone dihitestosterone. Which, as we have already mentioned above, allows the masculinization of the sexual organs and converts the tuber into a penis.

      In the case of possession of chromosomes corresponding to the female sex, the synthesis of dihydrosterone does not take place and the tuber then becomes a clitoris.

      However, in people known as güevedoces, in whom this type of pseudointersexuality occurs, the symptoms are limited to the appearance of the external genitalia, that appear phenotypically as female. Sometimes before puberty there is a small penis that can be seen as a clitoris, a bifid scrotum, and an open urogenital sinus in the perineum.

      The testes are usually located hidden in the inguinal canal or in the labioscrotal folds, while the internal structures derived from the wolf duct (epididymis, vas deferens and seminal vesicles) develop without any abnormalities.


      With the passage of time and the onset of puberty, as with all young people, the person has a high exposure to endogenous testosterone. In other words, the testosterone produced by our own body. This produces a masculinization of both the physical characteristics of the person and the genitals in the case of Güevedoces.

      This masculinization, in addition to the usual appearance of a deep voice, an increase in muscle mass, in people with hereditary male pseudointersexuality of this type also causes the growth of the penis and the decrease and increase in the size of the testicles. Outraged, no breast development occurs similar to the feminine.

      On the other hand, in most cases typical male facial hair becomes barely visible and the size of the prostate is significantly smaller than average.

      As a result of the case study, it was determined that Guevedo’s people have erections normally, being able to have sex with full penetration, but without the ability to inseminate due to the disposition of urethra.

      The results of the Imperato-McGinley study

      After years of studying güevedoces, Dr Imperato-McGinley discovered that in most cases people they demonstrate to identify with their male gender and a heterosexual orientation, Despite being brought up as girls, and decides to keep male genital changes.

      However, at other times the person feels part of the female sex, so it is common for some of them to have gender reassignment surgery that gives them female genitals.

      As a result, the doctor and his team concluded that when adopting a sexual and gender identity, the influence of hormones is stronger than the determinants of education.

      Regardless of one case or another, in most cases the appearance of the male genitals has an impact on the person, who may experience a series of identity crises as this results in a change in role. gender of the person.

      Finally, although this phenomenon is relatively common in this region of the Dominican Republic, the Güevedoces are often repudiated in society, victims of a part of the population who does not accept them. This carries a risk of marginalization and social isolation.

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