Wednesday, 13 Aug, 2008 Science

The Secret of Women with Male DNA


The secret lying within the body of Eden Atwood seemed to be really terrible. Some considered that it would have been better for her not to find out about her condition.

She was a model, actress and a jazz singer. But she felt that there was something unusual about her.

She decided to pass a number of tests. After that the doctors told her that her ovaries were twisted and cancer-prone, and they wanted to remove them, which in the end would make her infertile.

When she was 15, her stepmother told her that she (Eden) was half-man, half-woman. After that Atwood started thinking she was some kind of freak. But she was neither a freak nor half-man, half-woman. The DNA test showed she had a male chromosone XY. The problem in the world of science is dubbed Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, which is in fact a disorder of sexual development. This mutation can occur spontaneously or it can be transmitted from mother to baby.

Dr. Charmian Quigley, a pediatric endocrinologist, mentioned that in the United States thousands of women have this disorder. Just because they have a male chromosome doesn't mean they are men. They look and act like women and, in fact, they are women. These women have a vagina, but with some differences: their vagina is not connected to the uterus and they have male testes which are hidden inside.

It seems that the doctors lied about twisted ovaries. They have probably mistaken them for internal testes.

Women with AIS do not get acne and have no body odor. Some say that telling a girl with AIS she has such a disorder may cause a psychological trauma.

Atwood said that she slept with many men in order to prove she was a woman. It would be worth mentioning that sex is something normal for her. Women with AIS may even experience orgasms.

But not all parents hide the truth about the condition from their children. The parents of 11-year-old Kylee Whitcher were honest with their daughter, who knows everything about her condition and feels quite comfortable talking about her male DNA.

"I don't have ovaries, which I have to have in order to have a child, and I don't have a uterus, and I don't have fallopian tubes - but really, I look like any other girl," Whitcher said.

"I just told her that she was special and had to adopt other people's babies that don't have mommies and daddies," said Jen Cole, Whitcher's mom. The girl was only 3 years old when doctors discovered she had internal testicles.

It took 20 years before Atwood would feel somewhat comfortable with her condition. After she got married she shared her secret with Bruce Anderson, her husband. But due to some intimacy problems she and her husband divorced. However, they remain close. Bruce can be often seen in the kitchen, cooking meals with his 4-year-old son, who was adopted as an infant by the two.

Source: ABC News

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