In a lawsuit that may be a first, adoptive parents were awarded $440,000 because their child had actually been born with the genitalia for both males and females, and South Carolina authorities arbitrarily decided to remove the male genitals and make the infant a girl.
Placed up for adoption by the state shortly after the surgery, the child was described as an infant girl. The adoptive parents didn’t know until their child was almost two about the gender assignment surgery in which the child’s penis was removed and the vagina reconstructed to look more conventional.
Surprisingly enough, intersexed children are almost as common as people with red hair — making up around slightly less than 2 percent of the population. It used to be common for parents of an intersexed child to assign their child a gender shortly after birth — usually based on a doctor’s advice — although the trend now is to wait until the child expresses a preference for one gender over another (although not all do).
Essentially, the state doctors decided to guess which gender the child really belonged to and thought that merely creating the right outward biological components of the female gender would be enough to resolve the issue.
They guessed wrong.
The “little girl” eschewed feminine attire and clearly seemed to gravitate toward more masculine things, eventually expressing his feelings that he should be male.
The parents of the little boy sued because they felt that the genital surgery should never have been performed by the state’s doctors — that issues of gender identity are now understood well enough within the medical community that the doctors should have known better than to make that kind of call so early.
Doing so, they argued, violated the current standard of medical care for intersex children. In fact, three former United States surgeon generals have stated on record that genital assignment surgery on an infant can cause irreversible emotional and physical harm to the child.
The little boy has already had to undergo extensive and painful reconstructive genital surgery and will still face more surgeries and a permanent impairment due to the initial surgery. Much of the money will be paid in installments to fund his future surgeries.