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It is very rare indeed that you find among humans true hermaphrodites--individuals possessing both male and female gonads.

It’s as close as any of our children might come to the nightmare experienced by Gregor Samsa, of Franz Kafka’s terrifying story Metamorphosis, who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a human-size insect.

At the births of thousands of babies each year in the United States, the obstetrician can’t pronounce, It’s a girl! Some have a vagina and female external organs but lack such internal organs as ovaries and fallopian tubes; instead, they have certain male internal organs, like seminal vesicles, as well as testes hidden up in the body.

Most of these walking mosaics of sex manage to survive this adversity: indeed, their stories are moving testimony to humans’ ability to cope with the injustice that can be dealt out by nature.

Instead, these structures are channeled toward male organs by secretions of the testes themselves, while a lack of testicular secretions channels them toward female organs.

For example, in the eighth week of gestation the testes begin producing the hormone testosterone, some of which gets converted into the closely related substance dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT goes on to convert some all-purpose embryonic structures into the glans penis, penis shaft, and scrotum.

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