As many as 1.7 percent of babies are born as “intersex.” This means that they were born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the standard description of male or female. For example, they may appear to be one sex on the outside, but they have the internal anatomy of the opposite sex. Or, their genitalia may appear to be a blend of male and female. They may also be born with “mosaic” genetics, with some of their cells having XX chromosomes and some having XY chromosomes.
Someone born as intersex may not discover this until they are experiencing puberty, dealing with infertility issues as an adult, or perhaps it will never be discovered. That means that many people born intersex live their lives as a certain sex without any issues whatsoever.
Even so, a recent report indicates that doctors in the United States continue to perform unnecessary surgery on intersex children who do not have the capacity yet to participate in the decision. Many parents are pressured into opting for these procedures through guilt imposed by doctors over the child’s well-being. However, it is now believed that the results of this kind of surgery can be catastrophic. The benefits of surgery are mostly unproven as there is rarely an urgent medical condition that requires the surgery, and the results are irreversible. This can lead to both physical and psychological trauma for the patient.
Although patient advocates have warned doctors and the medical community about these implications for decades, doctors continue to present this surgery as a viable, positive option. A child can be raised as either sex without surgery, so making that choice beforehand can result in choosing the wrong sex for the child. The surgery performed on someone in infancy or childhood can also result in the inability to have children of their own. Therefore, many intersex patients have told doctors as adults that they feel they were mistreated and mutilated. They have been victimized with unnecessary cosmetic surgery, irreversible sex assignment, involuntary genital changes, and involuntary sterilization.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a surgical mistake, please call the New Jersey surgical error lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP at 732-777-0100, or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are centrally located in Red Bank, Toms River, and Edison, and we serve clients throughout New Jersey.