The adopted parents of a boy in South Carolina announced on Tuesday that they were suing the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS), social workers and doctors for forcing their son, who was born with both male and female sex organs, to undergo sexual-reassignment surgery when he was 16-months-old.
At a press conference in Columbia, Pam and Mark Crawford said that they had filed the first-of-its-kind suit on behalf of their now-8-year-old son, who they called M.C., because they wanted to "put other doctors on notice."
Court documents obtained by Lexington Patch allege that doctors elected to perform a painful and unnecessary surgery to assign M.C. to the female gender after they came to the conclusion that he "was a true hermaphrodite but that there was no compelling reason that she should either be male or female."
The document explains that M.C. was identified as a male at birth until doctors determined that he also had "ambiguous genitals," including both male and female internal reproductive structures. SCDSS took over care for M.C. after his father abandoned him and his mother was determined to be an unfit parent. The lawsuit claims that SCDSS and doctors caring for M.C. made the decision to cut his male phallus down to the size of a clitoris, remove one testicle and construct a labia, causing "significant and permanent impairment of sexual function."
The lawsuit argues that doctors and the state violated substantive and procedural due process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. It also says that doctors committed malpractice when they failed to obtain informed consent from the foster service that was caring for M.C.
"It's became more and more difficult as his identity has become more clearly male," Pam Crawford explained. "The idea that mutilation has been done to him has become more and more real. There was no medical reason that this decision had to be made at that time. There was no threat to his life."
"I would have never made the decision to choose the gender either way," she added.
Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Alesdair H. Ittelson, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Crawfords, said that the "case is about ensuring the safety of all children who do not have a voice."
"No one advocated for M.C.’s right to be free from unnecessary medical intervention at a time when the state was entrusted with his safety and well-being," Ittelson remarked. It is high time all involved answer for the needless injury they inflicted on M.C."
Watch this video from the Southern Poverty Law Center, broadcast May 14, 2013.