Mark and Pam Crawford are suing the people who gave consent for their adopted son to be mutilated and have his genitalia removed. M.C., who feels very much like a boy, behaves like a boy, and is accepted as a boy by his family, school and pediatrician as a boy. Unfortunately for M.C. he was born intersexed.
Intersexuals are a classification of people who are born in between the sexes. Some are born with mixed genetics while most who are identified as intersexed as born with mixed genitalia. Doctors often decide to just assign the infant the sex that they feel is best. Intersex advocacy groups have called for this practice to come to an end since it can lead to major psychological and physiological issues down the line.
In M.C.’s case, the doctors removed his male genitalia and assigned him to be a girl. In doing so, the Crawfords assert, “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.”
It is the first lawsuit of its kind filed on behalf of an intersex child who was given sexual assignment surgery while being too young to give informed consent.
Pam Crawford says in a video posted regarding the incident “I was really sad that that decision had been made for him. And it’s become more and more and difficult just as his identity has become more clearly male. The idea that mutilation was done to him has become more and more real. There was no medical reason that this decision had to be made at that time.”
According to Mrs. Crawford, M.C. “Wants to be a normal little boy”, but he has, basically, forced into a situation of experiencing gender dysphoria thanks to the doctor’s decision. She also said “I think the decisions made by the state send a message to M.C. that your body is not acceptable the way it is that you need to have a body that conforms more toward what we think it should look like… I would given anything for this not to have been done to our child. I don’t want it to happen to anymore kids.”
Roughly 1 in 2000 children are born every year with some form of intersexuality, which is one of the dozens of disorders of sexual development. M.C., obviously, is not alone in being forced to have this surgery even though their gender identity is not identical to the sex that they are assigned.
Advocates for Informed Choice is working with the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of the Crawfords. The AIC is an organization that specializes in advocating for the rights of intersex children.
According to AIC director and founder Anne Tamar-Mattis, these surgeries have been going on for years upon years but no one has ever taken on the legal aspects of this. Tamar-Mattis, whose partner and friends are intersex, told the Huffington Post “People I care about [have] been deeply, deeply hurt by these surgeries, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to other children.”
The AIC is one of the groups that have been pushing for regulations that doctors should not be allowed to make the decision to operate on children who are less than 16 months old. The AIC has said that doctors should “wait until the mature child can make the decision, with full information and the participation of the parents.”
Doctors insist that it is necessary for them assign a gender sooner rather than later for the benefit of the child. Larry Baskin, the Chief of Pediatric Urology at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that “There haven’t been any studies that would support doing nothing. That would be an experiment: don’t do anything and see what happens when the kid’s a teenager. That could be good, and that could also be worse than trying some intervention.”
Baskin might want to consider having a long, long, long conversation with someone who suffers from Gender Dysphoria (Gender Identity Disorder).
The Medical University of South Carolina, who did the surgery on M.C., remains defiant and will not offer any comment on this suit, but Tamar-Mattis noted just how harmful the surgery is and has no idea how the state will defend itself. She stated that “[The defendants made a] permanent, irreparable decision that compromised the civil rights of the child. They took it upon themselves to play god, and try to force this child into the body they thought he should have.”