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The genetically interesting phenomenon of the guevedoces in the Dominican Republic is also revealing about the development of sexual identities. Guevedoces are children born apparently as females who later (around puberty) begin to develop male characteristics. (The word guevedoce means "testicles at twelve years old.") The guevedoces have XY chromosomes, but because of a genetic mutation, their bodies do not produce the hormone dihydrotestosterone, which is responsible for a male appearance at birth. During puberty their bodies begin to produce testosterone, which causes them to go through a typically male adolescence. What they had assumed was a clitoris begins to grow into a penis, their testicles descend, their voices deepen, and their bodies develop a masculine musculature. The most interesting aspect of the guevedoces is that after twelve years of being brought up thinking they were girls, they suddenly develop masculine identities, express sexual desires for women, get married, and raise normal families.2 We cannot yet tell whether this dramatic change is due to the biological changes their bodies undergo at this time, or to the different expectations of their peers with respect to their sexual identity, but one thing seems very clear -- a person's sexual identity can change fairly easily, even after twelve years of upbringing. Theories about adult sex roles that have recourse exclusively to childhood influences may need to be revised
"...wondering wether I will just be regarded as a human being with a metabolic condition or not, instead of some mythical "hermaphrodite" or "guevedoce" or whatever."
by Licecomb August 26, 2006
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