A couple is suing the state of South Carolina for what they say was a medically unnecessary sexual assignment surgery performed on a 16-month-old child they eventually adopted. The child was born in 2004 with both male and female genitalia and placed in state custody after the termination of parental rights, according to court papers filed Tuesday. At the age of 16 months, doctors removed the child's male genitalia, leaving the toddler with female parts; Pam and Mark Crawford said they knew their child was born with ambiguous genitalia and raised the child as a girl starting in 2006.
But about a year ago, their now-8-year-old told them he wanted to be raised as a boy. They supported the decision, allowing him to cut his hair short and wear boys' clothes. "The doctors knew that sex assignment surgeries on infants ... poses a significant risk of imposing a gender that is ultimately rejected by the patient," attorneys claim in the suit, which argues the optional surgery should have been delayed until the child was older and self-identified as male or female. The State reports that the Department of Social Services, a former director for the department, and doctors and the hospitals they worked at (which are accused of negligence and medical malpractice for not getting the patient's informed consent before surgery) are named as defendants. About one in every 2,000 children is born "intersex," or with ambiguous genitalia.