updated 21 Jul 2012, 05:50
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Wed, Jul 18, 2012
Daily Chilli, Diva
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Blind mum raises son as a girl by mistake

A mother raised her son as a girl for thirteen years, due to a combination of a rare medical condition and her loss of sight.

The 13-year-old boy, named Xiao Ying, was born with an unusual physical defect called perineal hypospadias, which causes his scrotum to resemble a vagina.

"He was born at home and there were no doctors around, so when we couldn't see his genitals, we thought my wife had given birth to a girl," said his father Chen Shiming.

Chen left their home in Sichuan province shortly after the boy was born to find work 600km away in Chongqing city.

A year later, his wife, Wang Li, lost her sight to glaucoma, but continued to raise their "daughter" on her own.

Xiao Ying grew up playing with dolls and wearing skirts, reported the Chongqing Business Daily, and no one thought anything of it.

But in Oct 2010, Wang was giving him a bath when she discovered an "odd organ" around his crotch.

The boy was examined by local doctors, but they were unable to diagnose his condition due to limited resources.

It wasn't until months later that they sent Xiao Ying to a children's hospital at Chongqing Medical University. There, doctors performed tests which confirmed that Xiao Ying was actually their son.

Since then, Xiao Ying has had three surgeries to correct his physical condition, and began "gender reassignment" therapy last year.

But the confused and embarrassed 13-year-old has now become withdrawn.

"He's even scared to go to the toilet. He doesn't know which bathroom to use, the boys or the girls," said his mum.

Worried that he would be subjected to ridicule and bullying by his schoolmates, his parents transferred him to a new school in another town where no one would know his situation and he could have a fresh start with new friends. However, his mum says, "He's still not happy."

"He was very cheerful before this, always playful and sociable, going out with his friends," she said. But now he refuses to meet strangers and doesn't talk as much as before.

His mum added that they would have to decide on a new name for their son when they change the details of his birth certificate.

Dr Liu Junhong from Chongqing Medical University said that Xiao Ying needs one more operation, perhaps his last, in the coming months. After that, he would be "just like other boys" and none of his sexual functions would be affected.

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