In a first of its kind lawsuit, Greenville, S.C., residents Pam and Mark Crawford are suing the doctors who gave their adopted son sex reassignment surgery while in foster care. MC, who had been deemed a female by doctors, had surgery at 16 months to “correct” his status as intersex (having both male and female genitalia), but is struggling with this assigned identity now at 10 years old. His parents are grieving that such a decision was made for him before he was able to make it himself.

“We just hate that there were choices made that could have a significant impact on his being able to be a man,” Pam Crawford tells Newser. “We just don’t want people to have to go through what he’s going to face.”

BuzzFeed reports that after seeing the adorable photo of MC on an adoption website, the Crawfords knew they wanted to adopt him. Understanding the site featured many children with health problems, they decided to contact the South Carolina Department of Social Services to find out what was the matter with MC, who seemed in perfect health. It was then that they were alerted to the fact that he was born intersex; the agency detailed that MC was born with both a penis and vaginal opening, along with an undescended testicle on the left side of his body, and both ovarian and testicular tissue on the right side. Doctors reported MC’s hormone levels were consistent with a male baby at his age.

Pam Crawford’s first thought was that she hoped MC had not undergone a surgery, but much to their dismay, they found he had, being officially assigned the gender of female. Now, reaching closer to the formidable teenage years, MC identifies as male, and the Crawfords are calling his surgery a form of genital mutilation.

“…It’s become more and more difficult just as his identity has become more and more male,” they say in the video. “The idea that mutilation was done to him has become more and more real. There was no medical reason that this decision had to be made at that time.”

Officially, the Crawfords are alleging that the doctors involved in MC’s surgery violated his constitutional rights by having “surgically removed his phallus while he was in foster care, potentially sterilizing him and greatly reducing, if not eliminating, his sexual function,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to the Intersex Society of North America, being born with both genitalia is not as rare as we believe; as many as one in 2,000 babies are believed to be born intersex. And now, people are speaking out more openly about the effects of reassignment surgery before a child is able to make their own choice about their identity. Law Street confirms the Crawfords’ beliefs, saying what happened to MC, and many others like him constitutes genital mutilation. Since the 50s, they say, children born intersex were given a gender assignment, as doctors claimed that choosing for the child would allow them to have a certain quality of life they would not have if they remained intersex. For instance, if doctors find that the male phallus is unlikely to “perform” sufficiently in future sexual matters, they will likely make the patient fully female.

But it is precisely this preoccupation on the genitalia’s ability to perform, over the child’s health and wellbeing that many claim is the root of the problem. Whether or not the patient will be able to engage in heterosexual sex, and have “normative” genital appearance is debated as a primary concern for physicians. Meanwhile, some studies are finding that former intersex children become dissatisfied with this decision later in life, and angered by their lack of autonomy in their own identity.

In a 2006 report made to The New York Times, Larry Baskin, chief of pediatric urology at the University of California said that doing nothing for the child, on the other hand, may still be too risky. “There haven’t been any studies that would support doing nothing,” he said. “That would be an experiment: Don’t do anything and see what happens when the kid’s a teenager. That could be good, and that could be also worse than trying some intervention.”

As for MC, his case is slated to be carried out in November, but has left many talking about this formerly unfamiliar issue.