Intersex | News | South Carolina

South Carolina Sued for Choosing Gender of Intersex Foster Child, Performing Surgery: VIDEO


A South Carolina couple is suing the state after it made the unprecedented decision to perform irreversible and unnecessary sexual-reassignment surgery on a toddler in its care who was born intersex, WSFA reports:

McMark and Pam Crawford, adoptive parents of the now 8-year-old child, spoke to the media Tuesday morning about the lawsuits filed in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center and other advocates in federal and state courts.

The Crawfords say the child was born with intersex condition, which means a person is born with a sexual anatomy that doesn't fit the definition of a typical man or woman.

The suit alleges the South Carolina Department of Social Services decided to perform "dangerous and mutilating surgery" in April, 2006. The decision to make the 16-month old a girl took away the child's right to choose his or her sexual identity later in life, the suit states.

Named in the suit are the Department of Social Services, The Medical University of South Carolina, Greenville Health System and several other caregivers.

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  1. Not quite the same degree as this, but I would like to sue whoever decided to cut my foreskin off. Circumcision is unnecessary, mutilating and permanent and the boy who gets the surgery has no say in the matter.

    Posted by: Chadd | May 15, 2013 7:55:36 AM

  2. This is such an important corollary topic to sexual and gender identity politics, and a basic matter of human rights. Individuals like this child can face devastating identity issues if the wrong gender is chosen at infancy. I feel intersexuality and infant sexual assignment surgery is often a skipped over topic, even by many trans* advocates. Thank you for posting this Andy.

    Posted by: Kevin | May 15, 2013 8:39:27 AM

  3. @Chadd

    you're right, IT'S NOT

    Posted by: QJ201 | May 15, 2013 8:55:57 AM

  4. I thought this had been outlawed after the revalations about the Hopkins, John Joanne screw up. It is certainly not an advisable proceedure and many intersex people decide not to decide later in life, provided no one has taken that choice from them. Despicable behaviour by an interfeering and ignorant Child services department - totally against the guidelines. I hope they get successfully sued for millions.
    I was born with an intersex condition, fortunately I had sensible parents and a western European Health and social/child services to help.

    Posted by: Kathryn | May 15, 2013 9:03:05 AM

  5. To think that some numb chuck with a religious fervor sat back and decided to take an innocent child's right to chose is really outrageous. South Carolina taxpayers should pay a monumental financial judgment.

    To those who are cirucumsized, it is medical fact the slicing off of your foreskin has resulted in your penis being smaller than it would have been had the foreskin remained. Once healed any erection is stunted or kept by the lack of additional skin from reaching its normal length. Ouch!

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | May 15, 2013 9:43:35 AM


    @Chadd, It's not the same but it is mutilation without consent, and that is wrong.

    @Kathryn, write a book! I know I would read that!

    Posted by: Fenrox | May 15, 2013 9:50:11 AM

  7. Actually Chad I agree with you, and in fact it is related because some botched circumcisions have resulted in sex reassignments. Regardless, having a physically altering surgery without consent of the child can be traumatizing in adulthood, maybe not to the same degree, but certainly you are making a valid connection.

    Posted by: Critifur | May 15, 2013 9:58:05 AM

  8. Infuriating, for so many reasons.

    The biggest? There are more than two sexes, and it's embarrassing for our species that people don't know that. All this "there's man and there's woman!" nonsense is just empirically false! FALSE! There are more than two biological sexes. If you "don't know that" then you need to get freakin' educated.

    And yes, it's galling that this surgery was done. And as a canuck (hint hint) I have to concur with even the circumcision dilemma: "your" preference? "your" religion? Hi, it's not your penis. It's his. He's an infant. He's not chosen a religion yet. Don't make a choice for him. Kthanks.

    You'd think that when it comes to dealing with Intersex people the sheer reality of tangible physical empirical evidence and proofs would make the case clear and obvious; and yet it doesn't. People just choose to throw their arms up and say "well, i just don't get how that can be"


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 15, 2013 11:04:29 AM

  9. David Reimer of Winnipeg and the botched circumcision that led to his re-assignment as a girl by a group of loathsome doctors, in particular one psychopath at John Hopkins:

    There's a good documentary out there somewhere about his life story. One of the saddest things I have ever watched and read about. Committed suicide at 35.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 15, 2013 11:11:30 AM

  10. The government of South Carolina, like so many other states, still classifies gay and lesbians as second class citizens. I could see how they would't see the need for someone who was different to make their own choices. They have after all chosen the outcome of so many lives so far, don't they really know best? I want to note that the main argument for the religious right is "won't someone think of the children" when it comes to gay marriage. If we only truly thought of the children, even the intersex ones, wouldn't the world be great. I expect no comment from the religious right on this issue however which truly is "for the children".

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | May 15, 2013 12:08:32 PM

  11. Oh my. That poor kid.

    Posted by: olympiasepiriot | May 15, 2013 12:24:57 PM

  12. This is gut wrenching. I'm glad to see South Carolina being held accountable.

    Posted by: Mick | May 15, 2013 12:26:04 PM

  13. This is gut wrenching. I'm glad to see South Carolina being held accountable.

    Posted by: Mick | May 15, 2013 12:26:05 PM

  14. Whenever my state is in the news, it's never good.

    Posted by: Derrick | May 15, 2013 12:38:50 PM

  15. @QJ201, same crime, different scale.

    Posted by: Randy | May 15, 2013 3:00:07 PM

  16. The audacity of those f**kin loons to appraise themselves worthy to 'choose the gender' of this child.


    Posted by: JONES | May 15, 2013 3:05:03 PM

  17. Circumcision

    Two of my closest friends are OBGYN and in conversations about circumcision they both say they refuse to do them and tell their patients upfront. Circumcision in infancy is regarded as an elective surgery that is unnecessary, potentially harmful, and is 'cosmetic' surgery that is mostly done to appease an aesthetic of the parents, or (and here it is again) for a 'religious' tradition.

    Cosmetic surgery on the genitals of a baby boy who has no say so in the matter.

    Posted by: JONES | May 15, 2013 3:28:53 PM

  18. This is hideous! I just hope that that child grows up and has a peaceful life.

    Posted by: greenfuzz | May 15, 2013 3:46:03 PM

  19. Little Kiwi - That is the dumbest thing you have written yet. No, there are two sexes. Intersex is not a third sex. If you don't believe me, ask the Canadian health service.

    By your reasoning, a child born with flippers is a dolphin.

    Posted by: David Hearne | May 15, 2013 4:27:48 PM

  20. It's really disgusting that something like this would happen in the 21st Century. May the state lose the case and be forced to award the child millions, enough to cover any reconstructive surgeries (for what good they'll do), all the needed therapy -- and punitive damages on top.

    Re: Chadd's comment, there's a world of difference between the two things, but consent is rightly regarded as one of the most fundamentally important rights all 'patients' have, so why we've thrown it out on the single issue of circumcision in a mainstream way -- and that alone -- I've never understood. I expect society will eventually figure it out.

    Were I a parent, I would not allow any strictly elective procedure done until my child was old enough to have some semblance of consent, even an ear piercing until the child was in her mid to late teens.

    Posted by: Ryan | May 15, 2013 5:07:58 PM

  21. Ryan - When the state is the child's parent, the state makes decision as a parent would. Let's not pretend that birth parents haven't been making this decision for some time now. As for the "million" you hope is awarded to this child and/or her adoptive parents, you seem to think that comes from the magic money machine and not the taxpayers of South Carolina. This tells me that like Kiwi, you are probably not a taxpayer.

    Posted by: David Hearne | May 15, 2013 6:04:18 PM

  22. As an Intersex person who has Kallmann's syndrome, I think it's so wrong on so many levels. It's mutilation no matter how you slice it. Also, I have seen a number of places where people are trying to equate being born with an Intersex condition to being LGBT. The fact is Being born intersex is not a sex nor is it a Gender Identity. Being born with an Intersex condition is a medical condition you have from birth to death and comes with a host of health concerns you have to deal with for LIFE. Which is why Intersex people such as myself are always pissed and upset when LGBT people try to equate intersex people with them.

    Posted by: Nicky | May 15, 2013 7:07:45 PM

  23. Interesting perspective, Nicky. Would you prefer we not support you?

    I'm not sure what you specifically mean when you say "equate Intersex with them" - perhaps you could be a bit more specific.

    for example, while my being a gay cisgendered male is not "the same" as being bisexual, or transgendered, what we have in common is that we exist outside of a perceived and expected societal "norm" - and thus, are stronger when we stand together.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 15, 2013 7:15:53 PM

  24. No David Hearne, Little Kiwi is right and he didn't say there are three sexes. Some have suggested five, but there are continua/continuums (in more than one dimension). Who are you to assign one of your two sexes to someone who is right in the middle on all of them? Your analogy makes no sense. Humans are one species. There is no continuum between human and dolphin.

    Nicky, L=/=G=/=B=/=T either. At least one speaker on marriage equality in the New Zealand Parliament referred to "LGBTI". Would you accept that, especially since marriage equality does affect Intersex people? And while you may have had medical issues, I query your medicalisation of all Intersexuality. For many, it's just a state of being.

    Posted by: Hugh7 | May 15, 2013 9:36:25 PM

  25. Thank you, Hugh, and to your point - I've been working and volunteering alongside Intersex people at, well, "LGBT"/Q/I events and workshops for a few years, so I'm puzzled as to the "we don't want to be Equated with you", thing.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 15, 2013 9:54:57 PM

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