Thin Sandar, a chicken seller in Myanmar, had always dreamed of being a man. When she inexplicably grew a penis last month, the 21-year-old treated it as an awe-inspiring omen – as have the thousands of stunned villagers who have traveled to a pagoda to see him.
“On the morning of the full moon day of June 21, I noticed my thing (sex organ) was not the same as before,” Thin Sandar, who now goes by the male name Than Sein, told AFP.
“And my breasts disappeared,” Than Sein added. “So I called out and showed it all to my mom and dad. It was very strange.”
Strange enough that he has attracted significant attention in this deeply superstitious country, where the unexplained can quickly be exalted to hold powerful spiritual significance.
People privately concede Than Sein is a hermaphrodite. Several medical experts have examined him, and he awaits test results from the central women’s hospital.
But few have come forward with a medical explanation of the transformation as they await an official report by the health ministry, whose experts have also examined Than Sein.
“We can not say right now if she has really undergone a sudden gender change,” said a township official who declined to be named, adding that Than Sein’s birth certificate shows that he was born a girl.
“It can be confirmed when we receive the report from the health ministry, although some medical checkups have shown her to be a true man,” he added.
Hermaphrodites, also known as intersexuals, are often born with ambiguous genitalia, or have both testicular and ovarian tissue in a single person.
Medical doctor Aye Sanda Khaing put it in layman’s terms in a local journal: “Her penis appeared at the site of her clitoris,” the doctor was quoted as saying.
Regardless of the official findings, local villagers and other curious Myanmar nationals are flocking to the Aung Myay Thar Yar pagoda, in this new satellite township 19km from Yangon, to see Than Sein for themselves and make donations to him or the temple.