Two parents are suing the state of South Carolina over what they argue was sex assignment surgery performed prematurely on a child they adopted.
The unnamed child was born in 2004 with both male and female genitalia, and placed in state custody after termination of parental rights. At age 16 months, state social services and doctors decided to surgically remove the male genitalia, assigning female sex.
Pam and Mark Crawford adopted in 2006, and raised the child as a girl. But now, they say, the 8-year-old child has requested to be treated as a boy, a decision the parents are supporting.
"The doctors knew that sex assignment surgeries on infants ... poses a significant risk of imposing a gender that is ultimately rejected by the patient," claims the suit, filed by attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A state lawsuit targets Social Services officials, Greenville Memorial Hospital, and the Medical University of South Carolina, where the surgery was performed. An additional federal lawsuit accuses doctors and officials of violating the child's civil rights. The defendants named in the suits have not commented to the media.
On in every 2,000 children is born intersex, or with ambiguous genitalia. Surgery is the traditional treatment, but medical ethicists have recently begun to question the practice.
Founded in 1971, the Southern Poverty Law Center is a civil rights organization known for its legal victories against white supremacist groups, its legal representation for victims of hate groups, its monitoring of hate groups, militias and extremist organizations, and its educational programs that promote tolerance.