Las Salinas, Dominican Republic will be the setting for part of the BBC2 series “Countdown to Life - The Extraordinary Making of You” a docu-series that explores genetics and the production of the human body in the womb.
This area in the Caribbean island will be highlighted due to a phenomenon where individuals seemingly born as girls grow penises at puberty. This genetic disorder, which affects one in 90 children on the island according to The Daily Mail, is caused by a missing enzyme during pregnancy.
The missing enzyme, dihydro-testosterone, is what triggers a hormone surge in the womb that turns an embryo’s gonads into a penis if the embryo carries a Y chromosome. But due to the lack of this enzyme, the cells do not differentiate and the baby is physically born a girl. The production of a penis that should have occurred while in the womb instead happens years later when puberty hits and the hormone surge takes place.
Scientifically, these individuals are known as “pseudohermaphrodite”. They're born with the primary sex characteristics of one sex but end up developing the secondary sex characteristics that are different from what is genetically expected. Those on the island refer to them as guevedoces which roughly translates to “penis at 12.”
BBC will be looking further into this genetic disorder and the development of these individuals in the womb during their series. What are your thoughts on this? Sound off in the comments section.