The extraordinary case of the Guevedoces
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The discovery of a small community in the Dominican Republic, where some males are born looking like girls and only grow penises at puberty, has led to the development of a blockbuster drug that has helped millions of people
This process of sex organ development through chromosomal & hormonal mechanisms is known as sex differentiation.
The process of sex differentiation ensures that human fetuses are born with distinct external & internal genitalia (which is used to assign their sex at birth).
However, in a small town in the Dominican Republic, a community known as the "Guevedoces" (translating to "penis at twelve") undergo a different process of sex differentiation.
Many of them are brought up girls due to the absence a penis & testes & the presence of a vagina.
When puberty approaches, some of their male sexual organs grow, and their biological sex is reassigned as male according to their genitalia.
In the 1970s, Dr Julianne Imperato-McGinley, discovered that they have a genetic condition that causes a deficiency in an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone.
Thus, male external & internal genitalia do not develop despite the presence of the Y chromosome & SRY gene, and they appear female when they are born.
At puberty, a surge of testosterone causes their body to develop internal & external male genitalia alongside secondary male characteristics.
Another thing that Imperato-McGinley discovered was that the Guevedoces tend to have small prostates.
This observation led to the development of the best-selling drug, finasteride, which blocks the action of 5-alpha-reductase, mimicking the lack of dihydro-testosterone seen in the Guevedoces.
A final interesting observation that Imperato-McGinley made was that these boys, despite being brought up as girls, almost all showed strong heterosexual preferences. She concluded prenatal hormones play a bigger role in the development of sexual orientation compared to external influences.
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Just a queer, brown, psychology undergraduate ranting about random things I come across. I organize my thoughts in little, informative chunks and try to cite my sources. #psychology #society #marxism #philosophy #leftist #LGBTQ #gay #trans #queer
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