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Landmark case for intersex rights: parents sue over surgery

In a groundbreaking case, the parents of an intersex child are suing a South Carolina hospital and the social services department for performing 'irreversible and medically unnecessary' surgery

Landmark case for intersex rights: parents sue over surgery

In the first case of its kind in the US, the adoptive parents of an intersex child are suing over the damage caused by ‘irreversible and medically unnecessary’ surgery.

When Mark and Pam Crawford’s child, MC, was 16 months old and in the care of South Carolina social services he (he now, aged eight, identifies as male) had surgery to remove part of his genitals.

The surgery had the effect of ‘potentially sterilizing him and greatly reducing, if not eliminating, his sexual function’ said a statement from Advocates for Informed Choice who are fighting the case.

Pam Crawford, who knew about the intersex condition before adopting MC, said she was ‘really sad that that decision had been made for him’ and surgery had been performed before they got custody of him.

‘It’s become more and more difficult as his identity has become more clearly male,’ said Crawford.

‘The idea of that mutilation that 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. There was no threat to his life.’

The Crawfords’ legal team are suing South Carolina Department of Social Services, Greenville Hospital System, Medical University of South Carolina and individual employees.

‘This case is about ensuring the safety of all children who do not have a voice,’ said Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice.

‘I would give anything for this to not have been done to our child. I don’t want it to happen to any more kids,’ added Crawford.

Watch a video of The Crawfords telling their story here:  


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