In a popular-science Polish magazine Focus EKSTRA, special issue 5/2004*, page 39, there's a paragraph that says

(in original Polish, emphasis mine:)

Jak duża może być łechtaczka?

Największe bywają rozmiarów penisa - są też łudząco do niego podobne. Zwykle jest to skutkiem nadmiaru męskich hormonów w trakcie życia płodowego. Notowano przypadki, że takie dziewczynki wychowywano jako chłopców i dopiero w okresie pokwitania pomyłka wychodziła na jaw.

(translated to English, emphasis mine:)

How big can a clitoris be?

The largest ones are the size of a penis - they are strikingly similar to one, too. Usually that's a result of excess of male hormones during gestational period. There were noted cases where such girls were raised as boys, and only during puberty was the error made obvious.

The text describes obviously clitoromegaly, which is a moderately well-known intersex condition, so there's no scepticism there.

However, I can't for the life of me find any sources confirming the bolded part, ie. cases of women Assigned Male At Birth due to clitoral endowment and subsequently raised as boys until they got their first period.

Is this something the editorial staff made up?

* Warning: cover is NSFW - it features a topless woman for no discernible reason. (That photo is then reused in a section about belly buttons - for no discernible reason as well.)

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    It is highly unlikely. Women don't wee through the clitoris and it's hard to believe that a "boy" or the parents have not noticed that wee is coming from the wrong place until puberty. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 18:38
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    I also can’t imagine the doctor missing at birth - and every subsequent visit thereafter - the presence of labia, a vaginal canal, etc, and the absence of a scrotum.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 23:53
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    Ambiguous genitalia is relatively uncommon, but nontrivial condition on a population level. When I was in medical school, quite some time ago, there was a board that evaluated these cases and made a determination as to what to recommend to the parents. Typically, a gender assignment was made, with surgical treatment. As I recall, the (questionable) recommendation was not to ever tell the child. I went into a different field, so don't have direct knowledge of current practice, and don't have the inclination to research and write on this at the moment, but these cases certainly occur.
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 0:33
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    @DanBron you say you can't imagine the doctor being unable to correctly determine the gender based on the genitalia. I am telling you that you can feel free to imagine it, because it happens. You can choose not to believe me, of course (this is skeptics).
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 2:37
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    @DanBron i removed my snarky comment :) In any case, you may feel free to imagine doctors checking genitalia at every visit, and still saying, for example, "this is a boy with severe hypospadias", rather than "this is a girl with severe cliteromegaly and enlarged labia." If you can't imagine it, it is simply because you aren't sufficiently familiar with the range of developmental pathology. This isn't your fault, or an indicator of your general intelligence. You just didn't go to medical school.
    – De Novo
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 12:59

1 Answer 1


According to The micropenis and the giant clitoris Salon 12 December 1999:

In Baltimore, intersexual Kiira Triea, 35, claims her genitalia "look like crap" because doctors treated her like an "exotic lab rat." Born with in-between organs, she was raised as a boy until doctors decided to feminize her at puberty. To accomplish this, they hacked off her enormous and sensitive clitoris and they surgically created for her a rudimentary vagina. A full-time anti-surgery activist now, Triea directs an online support group for intersexuals worldwide.

See also Cancer and Allied Diseases of Infancy and Childhood (1960)

The patient was raised as a boy because of a large phallus and pubic hair. A skin biopsy showed a female sex chromosome pattern, and at laparotomy a uterus, tubes, and ovaries (proved by biopsy) were found. The clitoris was amputated...

and The Male: From Infancy to Old Age (1982):

..larged clitoris. They look just like little boys with undescended testicles, and in this case the doctor will frequently miss the diagnosis that it is a girl. Such a child will usually be raised as a boy until puberty. Some doctors have been tempted in ...

and The No-nonsense Guide to Sexual (2001):

Born with ambiguous genitalia herself she was raised as a boy until 18 months old when physicians told her family that she was really a girl and removed her enlarged clitoris.

and Introduction to psychology (1979):

Both infants had surgery to correct their enlarged clitoris. In one case, the infant's genitals were "feminized," and she was raised as a girl. The other infant's genitals were modified to resemble a penis, and he was raised as a boy

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    The middle quote (1982) seems like the most probable original source of the claim in the question, while others seem to suggest the part about parents being completely unaware of the intersex status of their child is an exaggeration. Stellar job. Also - I'm really disturbed by all that genital mutilation in here.
    – Dragomok
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 17:37
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    @Dragomok The first source (Salon) could be fake information according to this: transgendermap.com/community/kiira-triea-denise-magner
    – DavePhD
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 22:32

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