Patient Rights

Parents Sue Doctors For Performing Early Gender Surgery On Intersex Son

A first-of-its-kind lawsuit may send a signal to doctors intent on using their scalpel to “correct” children who are intersex. The suit, filed by a couple in South Carolina on behalf of their eight-year-old son, alleges that the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Greenville Hospital System and Medical University of South Carolina engaged in medical malpractice when doctors there decided that a child with ambiguous genitalia was, in fact, a girl. (None of the defendants has responded to the suit.)

“We feel very strongly that these decisions to permanently alter somebody’s genitalia and their reproductive ability for no medical reason whatsoever is an abhorrent practice and can’t be continued,” Pam Crawford the mother of the child, told Reuters. “It is too late for our son. The damage has been done to him.”

Crawford’s son was a sixteen-month old in the foster care system when doctors chose to perform surgery. The lawsuit maintains that the decision was premature, since it wasn’t clear which gender identity the child (identified only by initials) would embrace. “The doctors knew that sex assignment surgeries on infants with conditions like M.C.’s poses a significant risk of imposing a gender that is ultimately rejected by the patient,” the lawsuit says.” The child now considers himself a boy.