Pam and Mark Crawford are suing the South Carolina Department of Social Services after Greenville Hospital performed a sex-designated operation on their adopted inter-sex child to make the toddler a girl.
The child, born with male and female genitalia, was placed in the custody of the state in 2004 after parental rights were terminated.
The lawsuit targets the hospital for negligent medical malpractice for not retrieving patient consent and failing to warn the patient of the surgery’s potential problems, like sterilization or the loss of sexual function. It also targets state officials for violating the child’s civil rights.
“The doctors knew that sex assignment surgeries on infants ... poses a significant risk of imposing a gender that is ultimately rejected by the patient," the Crawford’s attorney said in a statement, suggesting the irreversible surgery should have been elected by the patient at an older age.
A year ago, the Crawfords’ child told them he wished to be raised as a boy.
Their son cut his hair and started wearing boy’s clothing with the support of his family, school and community.
However, the Crawfords say answering questions about their son’s body is difficult – they don’t want him to be bitter.
“The sadness of this child,” Dr. Margaret Moon, a pediatrician who teaches at Johns Hopkins, said, “was that he was physically forced in to a gender that sort of didn't fit.”
The Crawfords say their child was subjected to a mutilating surgery, merely to conform to a meaningless societal standard.
"It's heartbreaking," said Mark Crawford.