Boy, 12, paid $440k after 'mutilating' intersex surgery
A 12-YEAR-OLD will be paid $440,000 over the next 16 years after doctors decided his gender when he was born.
M.C Crawford was an intersex baby, born with both female and male genitalia.
All his life, M.C has identified as a boy, despite not actually being biologically male.
When he was born, the doctors performed a controversial surgery, deciding what gender he would grow up to be.
Doctors surgically removed M.C's male genitalia and four years ago his parents sued those responsible for performing and signing off on the surgery.
CNN reports the surgery happened when M.C was just 16 months old and in foster care.
His adoptive parents, Mark and Pamela Crawford, filed a lawsuit against three doctors and some members of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
"It's become more and more difficult, just as his identity has become more clearly male, the idea that mutilation was done to him had become more and more real," Mrs Crawford said in a video filmed by the Southern Poverty Law Centre who was assisting the family.
"There was no medical reason that this decision had to be made at this time."
After four years engaged in legal battles, a judge ruled in M.C's favour and he will be paid $440,000 over the next 16 years because of the controversial surgery.
Court documents reveal M.C's parents claimed he incurred medical bills, pain and suffering, psychological damages and permanent impairment.
The Medical University of South Carolina denied claims of negligence and any liability for alleged claims. It agreed to compromise despite vigorously disputing the claims to avoid the costs of litigation.
M.C's case settlement comes after Human Rights Watch and interACT released a report looking at harmful surgery on intersex children and how medically unnecessary operations could risk lifelong suffering.
The report, I want to be like nature made me': Medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children in the US, looked at both the psychological and physical damage the surgeries could have on intersex kids.
"Despite decades of controversy over the procedures, doctors operate on children's gonads, internal sex organs, and genitals when they are too young to participate in the decision, even though the surgeries could be safely deferred," Human Rights Watch said.
"Intersex people are not rare, but they are widely misunderstood. Based on a medical theory popularised in the 1960s, doctors perform surgery on intersex children - often in infancy - with the stated aim of making it easier for them to grow up 'normal'.
"The results are often catastrophic, the supposed benefits are largely unproven, and there are rarely urgent health considerations requiring immediate, irreversible intervention."
Kimberly Zieselman, an intersex woman and executive director of interACT, said the surgery on intersex infants was damaging.
"Despite decades of patient advocates putting the medical community on notice about the harm from these procedures, many doctors continue to present these surgeries to parents as good options," she said.
The report found 1.7 per cent of babies differ from a typical boy or girl.
It also revealed surgery to remove gonads could lead to sterilisation without the patient having a choice in the matter.
A doctor told Human Rights Watch medical professionals acknowledged that parents wanted to keep their intersex child's body in tact.
"We're listening to the adult patients who are telling us that they feel they were mistreated and mutilated and that's a very powerful thing," the doctor said.
This month three former US surgeons wrote a journal that said "there is insufficient evidence that growing up with atypical genitalia leads to psychosocial distress" and "while there is little evidence that cosmetic infant genitoplasty is necessary to reduce psychological damage, evidence does show that the surgery itself can cause severe and irreversible physical harm and emotional distress."
Human Rights Watch and interACT interviewed 30 intersex adults, two intersex children, and 17 parents of intersex children. About 20 healthcare practitioners including gynaecologists, endocrinologists, urologists, psychologists and mental health providers also participated in the report.
Parents of an intersex eight-year-old were encouraged by doctors to give permission for their child to have surgery.
"The doctors told us it was important to have the surgery right away because it would be traumatic for our child to grow up looking different," they said. "What's more traumatic? This sort of operation or growing up a little different?"