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South Carolina sued for removing male genitals of ‘hermaphrodite’ toddler

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South Carolina sued for removing male genitals of ‘hermaphrodite’ toddler


By David Edwards
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 16:10 EDT
Pam and Mark Crawford suing South Carolina for removing son's genitals

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.

by on May. 15, 2013 at 1:11 AM
Replies (21-30):
Angela_Barlow
by Member on May. 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM
Poor kid!
TruthSeeker.
by Milami on May. 15, 2013 at 4:10 PM
They took his penis just because he had female internal parts? This is so wrong!
TranquilMind
by Platinum Member on May. 15, 2013 at 6:21 PM
2 moms liked this

 What standing do these parents have to sue the state?  They were not his parents when the state acted, rightly or wrongly.  That's my question. 

LizzieAnnesMom
by Bronze Member on May. 15, 2013 at 6:38 PM
Glad someone is standing up for that poor boy.
-Celestial-
by Pepperlynn on May. 15, 2013 at 6:50 PM


Quote:

When M.C. was born eight years ago, the newborn was not easily identifiable as a male or female.

Doctors determined the child had an intersex condition, which is a difference in reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female – a condition that years ago would have been called “hermaphroditism.”

When M.C. was just 16 months old and in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, doctors and department officials decided the child should undergo sex assignment surgery to make M.C. a girl. There was no medical reason to perform this surgery, which robbed M.C. not only of his healthy genital tissue but also of the opportunity to decide what should happen to his own body.

Now 8 years old, M.C. identifies as a boy – wearing boy clothes and hairstyles – despite an irreversible surgery that has left him with female genitalia. He has announced to his school and his religious community that he has always been a boy.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a groundbreaking lawsuit today on behalf of M.C.’s adoptive parents, Mark and Pam Crawford. It charges that the state of South Carolina violated M.C.’s constitutional rights when doctors surgically removed his phallus while he was in foster care, potentially sterilizing him and greatly reducing, if not eliminating, his sexual function.

The lawsuit describes how the defendants violated M.C.’s substantive and procedural due process rights, outlined in the 14th Amendment, by subjecting M.C. to the unnecessary surgery “without notice or a hearing to determine whether the procedure was in M.C.’s best interest.”

It also charges that the doctors committed medical malpractice by failing to obtain adequate informed consent before proceeding. The defendants told M.C.’s guardians to allow the sex assignment surgery but did not provide information regarding the surgery’s catastrophic risks, including sterilization and greatly reduced or wholly eliminated sexual function. Most important, they did not tell them that the procedure was medically unnecessary.

Today’s lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed in the United States.

“This case is about ensuring the safety of all children who do not have a voice,” said Alesdair H. Ittelson, SPLC staff attorney. “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. It is high time all involved answer for the needless injury they inflicted on M.C.”

Surgery performed since 1950s

Since the 1950s, doctors have performed this type of sex assignment surgery on infants with intersex conditions even when the child’s ultimate gender remains unknown. In M.C.’s condition, there is no way to tell whether the child will ultimately identify as a boy or a girl. Instead, the doctors decided to assign M.C. female and change his body to fit their stereotype of how a girl should look. As is the case here, doctors often fail to provide full information about the procedure’s risks to the child’s parents or guardians.

Although long-term outcomes of today’s genital surgeries in children have not been well-studied, many doctors and advocates recommend that children with intersex conditions be assigned a gender at birth but postpone any unnecessary surgery until they are old enough to self-identify with a gender and make their own decisions about their bodies.

Risks of sex assignment surgery include the following:

  • The initial sex assignment may be at odds with the gender identity that develops.
  • Diminished sexual sensation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of potential fertility
  • Loss of the important health benefits of hormones

 

“By performing this needless surgery, the state and the doctors told M.C. that he was not acceptable or loveable the way he was born,” said Pam Crawford, M.C.’s adoptive mother. “They disfigured him because they could not accept him for who he was – not because he needed any surgery. M.C. is a charming, enchanting and resilient kid. We will not stop until we get justice for our son.”

The Crawfords hope to prevent other children with intersex condition from being forced to endure unwanted sex assignment surgery.

Sean Saifa Wall, an adult with an intersex condition, was raised as a female but now lives his life as a man.  He remembers the pressure doctors put on his mother to consent to vaginal construction surgery during puberty. After hearing the details of how invasive and barbaric the surgery appeared, Wall’s mother refused, sparing him from irreparable injury.

“Infants and children should be loved and accepted in the bodies they were born in,” Wall said. “I speak for the many who cannot speak, including those living with the shame, isolation and secrecy that surround people with intersex conditions. I say to them, you are not alone and it’s time for us to be proud of these bodies we inhabit.”

The lawsuit, filed in state and federal court, joins a long line of SPLC cases brought on behalf of those harmed by medical recklessness, including a 1973 case on behalf of young African-American women sterilized against their will.

The lawsuit, M.C. v. Medical University of South Carolina, was filed in County of Richland Court of Common Pleas. M.C. v. Aaronson was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Defendants include the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Greenville Hospital System, Medical University of South Carolina and individual employees.

 SPLC co-counsel include Advocates for Informed Choice and pro bono counsel for the private law firms of Janet, Jenner & Suggs and Steptoe & Johnson LLP. 


hhhanna
by on May. 15, 2013 at 6:53 PM

“I would have never made the decision to choose the gender either way,” she added

AND - IF you'd been the adoptive parent at that point, you could have done that, but you weren't.  The state was acting as a parent and did what they believed was best.  So, if you'd adopted a baby boy who had been circumcised (either by the state or by his birth parents) would you have tried to sue because YOU wouldn't have circumcised him?  Good grief, you adopted him/her as they are when you adopted the child, now show them some love and raise them.  I sort of understand, but not really.

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on May. 15, 2013 at 6:54 PM
That is tragic for that little boy.
finnbar
by Silver Member on May. 15, 2013 at 8:27 PM
He was in state care. After parental rights were terminated when he was 16 months old the state rushed to get the gender assignment surgery.
I would like to know if his removal from his parents had anything to do with them not getting him "fixed"


Quoting EireLass:

I'm confused on the timing of this. Was this done prior to their adoption? Was the child in state care at the time, or with the birth parents?


LilliesValley
by Bronze Member on May. 15, 2013 at 8:31 PM

This type of surgery shouldn't be done until the kid has gone through puberty imo. How did the child's advocate allow this? Doesn't make sense. It's sad. Obviously if this kid now identifies as male he's going to have yet another surgery later, and before he would have been able to have children mltn and now can't. How do you pay someone back for that?

LilliesValley
by Bronze Member on May. 15, 2013 at 8:35 PM

 

I do wonder this to, but I think it's great that they are trying. Maybe the state will, in the future, wait for the child to be adopted. It could be that the state feared the child would not be adopted without this surgery but it seems like all of the normal processes such as child advocate etc weren't allowed. Maybe them doing this will help someone else.

Quoting TranquilMind:

 What standing do these parents have to sue the state?  They were not his parents when the state acted, rightly or wrongly.  That's my question. 


 

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