US: Should Doctors Operate On Intersex Babies?

M.C. was born with ambiguous genitalia, a rare condition that doctors addressed with surgery. Now, in a landmark lawsuit, M.C.’s parents are challenging the medical mainstream: Why does a surgeon decide what sex a child should be?

Roughly 1 in every 2,000 babies in the U.S. are born, like M.C., with a range of traits that fall somewhere along the wide spectrum between male and female. Some doctors argue that the number of these so-called intersex babies is even higher — as many as 1 in 100 — depending on what biological markers are used to draw the line where nature hasn’t. Many intersex patients, parents, legal experts, and bioethicists are opposed to surgical fixes, which they argue are often medically unnecessary, riddled with consent issues, and physically and psychologically harmful.

As M.C. begins the anguish of adolescence, Pam and her husband, Mark, are waging a landmark lawsuit against the hospitals and state guardians who decided to put their son through sex-assignment surgery. The Crawfords’ lawsuit is only the latest development in a movement against intersex surgeries that has been building since John Money’s John/Joan case re-emerged in the late 1990s. Read More