• Intersex

    In Las Salinas, a dry impoverished town in the Southwest of the Dominican Republic, close to the border with Haiti, one in every 90 babies are born with an intersex disorder known as 5 Reductase Deficiency. The babies are born as girls, even though they manifest some form of male genitals, usually as a hump under the skin and then become boys at around the age of 12 when a heavy dose of testosterone transforms them. In the 1970’s doctor Teofilo Gautier came to the town to research those with the disorder and concluded that the phenomenon was most likely linked to a gene that is frequently passed down through intermarrying in families.  There are only two other places in the world with such high levels of the disorder, villages in Papua New Ginuea and in Turkey. What makes Las Salinas unique is the acceptance of the community, a place in which traditional gender roles are clear and followed. Even a historic figure of the town was afflicted with the disorder and to this day is considered in the highest regard. Community members explain that they are sympathetic to those with the disorder because they are just born that way and it’s not something that can be changed. Those with the disorder sometimes undergo surgery after puberty and then remain on hormone therapy the rest of their lives. In the United States, where one in every 2,000 babies are born with the disorder, doctors are accustomed to preforming “corrective” surgery at birth and have come under scrutiny as increasingly, children who have been “corrected” are appearing to grow up confused about their identity.

  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Gaudalin Lebron, a 5 year intersex child, being raised as a girl feeds herself lunch in the kitchen of their small wooden house. Dominican Republic: In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Sección el proyecto, Mella, Dominican Republic: The towns bar with an inventive tree made from beer bottles. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Johnny who is from Sala Dillo and was born with the 5a intersex condition in his cousin's apartment where he has been living while undergoing two surgeries on his genitals. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: The women's bathroom at a local billiard hall. Choosing which bathroom to use for an intersex person can be an agonising and important decision in life. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Baharona, Dominican Republic: Men cool off in a natural spring along the road to Baharona from Las Salinas. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Cristobal, Dominican Republic: A Saturday afternoon cockfight, the areas strictly male weekend ritual. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: A young boy hangs out by the river on a saturday morning. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Cristobal, Dominican Republic: Young and old dance a mixture of Bachata and Merengue on a Saturday night in Cristobal, a neighborhing town where most of the people from Salinas go to party on a Saturday night.In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Rossy's Salon, full on a Saturday when most women get their hair done as a weekly ritual. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Children depicted as boys and girls on a mural outside of the elementary school in Las Salinas. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Girls await for an exercise class to begin outside of the town gym. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Sala Dillo, Dominican Republic: Brandy cools off in a tub full of dirty water. Brandy's cousin Diego was born with the intersex condition, although he was not. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Plaintain fields outside of Sala Dillo. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Sección el proyecto, Mella, Dominican Republic: Joseinys Ruiz Perez's skirt lights on her bed. Joseinys who has an intersex condition is the only one known in the area to have remained a woman. She has completed breast implantation and is awaiting hopefully another surgery on her genitals. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Sección el proyecto, Mella, Dominican Republic: Joseinys Ruiz Perez looks on at pictures of herself and her nephew who also suffers from the intersex disorder, she does, although Joseinys is the only one known in the area to have remained a woman. She has completed breast implantation and is awaiting hopefully another surgery on her genitals. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: The cemetary in Las Salinas which holds the tomb of one of the most important leaders of the town, Don Jose who was also born intersex. The condition is thought to be passed down through generations of intermarrying. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Young girls practice a baton dance, a ritual strictly reserved for girls. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: A woman cleans the pavement outside of a house early in the morning while a boy looks on. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen
  • June, 2016: Las Salinas, Dominican Republic: Dolls and barbies lay on the backyard pavement in the house of Gaudalin Lebron, a 5 year intersex child, being raised as a girl. In an old salt mining town in the arid most poor areas of the Dominican Republic, 1 out of 90 babies are born with a Sexual Development Disorder known as 5d or 5α-reductase deficiency5α-reductase deficiency. The disorder is caused by a lack of dihydrotestosterone in the womb and causes babies to be born with what looks to be a vagina. The children are often raised as girls until the onset of puberty and a spurt of testosterone causes them to take on characteristics of men, including the growth of their genitals. The medical anomaly in the town of Salinas and it's neighboring Sala Dillo have been studied by a prominent Dominican sexual disorder doctor in the 1970's, named Teófilo Gautier. Although he concludes that the disorder, which is passed down through a gene is most likely the result of pervasive intermarrying, although his conclusions still leave many questions. What is most notable however of children with the disorder, is that although they do face discrimination, they are pretty much accepted by the community, in an otherwise patriarchal society which holds steadfast on gender roles. ©Nadia Shira Cohen