Intact America celebrates 15 years!

Intact America (IA) is celebrating our 15th birthday! “Celebrating” might sound like a strange word to use, when you consider that the practice Intact America is fighting – the routine amputation of baby boys’ foreskins – is still all-too-common in U.S. hospitals. In this introduction, though, I’ll talk about what 15 years of leading IA has meant to me, give you some updates about our new activities, and tell you why I am super-optimistic about the future.

Georganne and MarilynIntact America was created when Marilyn Milos, “mother of the intactivist movement,” brought together a group of people who for decades had been fighting for boys’ rights to keep their intact bodies. Marilyn introduced us to a Texas businessman and NOCIRC donor named Dean Pisani who had told her he wanted to see the movement grow and was willing to fund the creation of a larger organization that could hire professional consultants and staff, launch fundraising and media campaigns, and expand the rosters of supporters. After a months’ long planning process, Dean and others in the group asked me to serve as executive director on a temporary basis. Truthfully, I didn’t think about how long I might stay in that position. I was just enormously grateful that the people around the table believed I could lead the new entity.

Georganne and MarilynNow, 15 years later, I’m still here (with Dean and Marilyn) and I’m still grateful! I’m also totally fired up about the future. Earlier this summer, I completed my memoir, called This Penis Business. It is due to be released on February 20, 2024, together with Please Don’t Cut the Baby, a memoir written by Marilyn Milos. In these books, Marilyn and I have told how our (very different) life stories led to our involvement in the intactivist cause. The books will be available for pre-order shortly.

Just as Marilyn and I have told our stories, increasing numbers of men and the people who love them are telling their own stories about how male genital cutting has impacted their lives. In the early days of my own activism – indeed, in the early days of Intact America – very few people were willing to come out publicly to talk about circumcision. This is so ironic, because doctors promiscuously assault babies’ genitals – as many as 4000 times each day, but nobody wants to acknowledge the harm this custom creates. In the past, respecting the strange and conflicting taboos in our society that govern talking about sex and sexual body parts, even intactivists’ arguments were more intellectual and conceptual than graphic and deeply personal. We spoke of forced circumcision as a “human rights violation,” as “medically unnecessary,” or as “unethical.” All of these descriptors are, of course, true. But they don’t tend to move people; they don’t create compassion and empathy for the (nameless) victims or provoke the outrage needed to “change the way Americans think about circumcision.”

If we look at every other successful social change movement, from the abolition of slavery, to the fight for women’s suffrage, to the Civil Rights movement, to the LBGTQ and same-sex marriage movements, to the more recent “MeToo” movement, we can see that key to effecting change was making public the personal stories, the voices and the faces of the victims. But for the victims and the opponents of deeply embedded injustice, coming out and speaking one’s truth takes willingness to risk the disapproval or hostility of friends, family, and coworkers.

When Intact America launched our Voices series in 2017, it was difficult for us to find even one person willing to reveal their name and send a photo to publish with the story of the damage they had suffered from having their genitals cut as helpless babies or children. Just six years later, we are trying to figure out how to give exposure and justice to the torrent of inquiries and submissions from victims who (it is my view) are not so much brave, but rather have found the price of secrecy and self-repression too great to endure.

This groundswell of people aching to tell their stories paved the way for Intact America’s new story-telling photo campaign, called SKIN IN THE GAME: Circumcision Cuts Through Us All. The campaign is premised on the same elements of success as the other social movements mentioned above: revealing the human faces of injustice and amplifying the human voices of victims. The photographs for SKIN IN THE GAME were taken in a series of three photoshoots, two in Atlanta and one in Dallas. Most of the participants were unknown to Intact America before they responded to online ads inviting interested people of any race, ethnicity, sex, and body type to have their pictures taken for Intact America, identified as “a nonprofit organization working to end male child genital cutting (circumcision).” Over a period of nine days, those who came were asked why they had responded to the ad, and if they would like to share their stories. Some said they’d been thinking about the evils of circumcision for years; others said they had never consciously considered the harm until they saw the ad. We met men and women of all ages, of every ethnicity and sexual orientation. The atmosphere was magical.

As the hours and days progressed, it became clear to us that everyone in our country has a circumcision story. The resulting photos and quotes of participants in the photoshoots, as you will see over the coming months, are intensely emotional and will be used to promote the two new memoirs and the ongoing work of Intact America. THIS WAVE OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND OF CHANGE WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD.

DoNoHarm logo
Additionally, Intact America’s upcoming DoNoHarm.Report project will provide yet another venue for broadcasting the rampant solicitation of circumcision, the harms of “routine” genital cutting, and the epidemic of forcible foreskin retraction – all fueling the multi-billion-dollar American circumcision industry. Together, our activities, your voices, and your support for Intact America make it clear to me that we are moving toward a tipping point.

YOU, the person reading this newsletter, give me that optimism. The reasons we are still here today are, first, the justice of our cause and, second, the generosity of people just like you who have donated to the organization over the years. We couldn’t do our work without this financial support.

Even if you haven’t thought about it before now, you are likely realizing that you, too, have a story about how this heinous custom has impacted your life, your family, or the life of someone you love. And I hope you will tell your story before too long. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Georganne Chapin, Founding Executive Director

Voices — Luke Davis

When I was born in the early 1990s, my mother chose not to have me circumcised. She did the same for my older brother. She’s a nurse, and she knew it wasn’t medically beneficial the way everyone makes it out to be. But we were unusual for American boys. And even though she had insisted on it at our births, we just didn’t talk about it. We weren’t super-open about discussing these things. (Our father, who had wanted us to be circumcised to “look like him,” was no longer around when we were growing up.)

By the time I got to middle school, an age when kids become more sexually aware, it dawned on me that having a foreskin was unusual. I overheard other kids talking about how gross they thought an uncircumcised penis was. It especially affected me when a girl said it.

When you’re a young boy coming of age, you’re trying to figure out a lot of things. In sex-ed, circumcision wasn’t talked about too much. Everyone assumed it was the norm, but the pictures didn’t look like my penis, and I wasn’t going to raise my hand as a 12-year-old.

It eventually got so I couldn’t change in the locker room because I didn’t want people to see. I was so insecure and shy about being different from everyone that when I was 17, I spoke to my doctor about being circumcised. She was a really down-to-earth doctor, and she told me it was unnecessary to do so. She said, “You’re very used to having a foreskin, and it could be something you’ll regret.” Still, she said if it was my wish, she would put me in touch with somebody. I got nervous and decided not to do it.

In truth, a part of me truly liked being uncircumcised, but I was embarrassed to admit it. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. The turning point came when I was 25 and living with a roommate, a woman from Canada who had been in the U.S. for a little while. She glimpsed my penis accidentally one day. We had a comfortable rapport, and some time later we were talking when the conversation turned to circumcision. She said the procedure is rarely performed in Canada and that she had never seen a circumcised penis. This opened my eyes. That’s when I put it all together. I felt validated, realizing this is not as uncommon or weird as I once thought it was. To hear a woman my age in my friend group say she thinks it’s wrong and can’t fathom why anyone would do that to a child set me on a more confident path. After our conversation, I went online to learn more about how it’s viewed around the world.

That’s where I started my journey to understand the issue from a global perspective, and today I’m 100 percent glad I’m intact. Over time, I realized that I honestly like the look of it. My penis is not mutilated or scarred. I think it’s aesthetically pleasing. I hope anyone who feels alone and weird like I did as a kid knows that they’re absolutely not alone. In fact, outside of the U.S. and a few other places, most of the men in the world are just like you—intact

Luke Davis

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.

Welcome Our New Staff!

Kelly Floyd

Manager of Community Programs
Kelly Floyd
Kelly Floyd began working with Intact America in 2022 after speaking at the 16th International Symposium in Atlanta, GA. where she presented her essay “Scarring Innocence.” Kelly encouraged intactivists to assert their objective moral authority as the primary justification for their ethical stance on the genital cutting of infants, rather than the deconstruction of pseudoscientific and religious myth. She received her Bachelor’s in Journalism from Georgia State University in 2021 and completed a marketing internship with FAIR, The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, in the summer of 2022.

She contributed to setting the foundation for FAIR’s organizational club presence on college campuses across the country and the distribution of FAIRstory curriculum to schools. As Community Programs Manager, Kelly works to nurture the relationships between intactivists and the general population, as well as build up Intact America’s supporter base through strategic campaign initiatives, institutional accountability driven programs, and donor outreach. Her goal is to unite people of varying beliefs, cultures, and identities to work together and abolish child genital cutting, which she believes has detrimental consequences for the entire human collective.

Patrick Montanaro

Manager of Communications & Marketing
Patrick Montanaro
Although professional untangler isn’t a particularly legitimate job title, it does describe the nuance of what I do at Intact America. Every organization is made up of communication lines. You can imagine them like the long strands of Christmas lights that get boxed up and bunched every year. A great organization has clear communication paths, but sometimes those paths get all looped and knotted. My job is to do my professional untangling and make sure the red bulb isn’t cracked, or the wires aren’t tied together, or the plug isn’t overheating. To really bring this Christmas lights metaphor full circle, I essentially want to make all parts of Intact America shine.

But first – the untangling. I will also be handling most of the social media, the newsletter, and a few special projects. If you happen to be at some of the events that Intact America has a presence at, I will probably be there too. If you see me, come and say hi! Tell me about yourself. We can discuss the greatest American folk singer (spoiler: it’s Jim Croce) and share sauce-making secrets. It’s a great pleasure to be at Intact America!



Intact America Staff

Left to right: Georganne Chapin, Stephen Patterson, Kelly Floyd, and Patrick Montanaro

Voices — Tom Kallas

I am a circumcised gay male, and one of my earliest sexual relationships was with someone who was intact. That was when I found out what a foreskin was and first heard of circumcision.

This was all new to me. Growing up in the U.S., we never learned about the foreskin in school. I just thought a circumcised penis was what a natural penis looked like. I became really curious: Why was the foreskin cut off when I was a baby?

In my initial research about 15 years ago, everything about circumcision online was misinformation about how it’s good for you: It prevents STDs, it’s cleaner, and all the different reasons that Americans have to justify it. So in the beginning, the research made me feel better about it.

But as I got older, I encountered more men who were intact. They were clearly enjoying sex more; it was a more pleasurable sensation for them. So I did more research and came across Intact America and other organizations that try to educate the public on the harms of circumcision. I quickly realized all the things I had read to justify circumcision weren’t valid reasons to do that to someone at such a young age without his consent.

That’s when I started to feel really bad about it. I felt disabled in a way. By now I knew the foreskin has a valuable function; without it, I felt like I was missing a limb. So a little over six years ago, I decided to try foreskin restoration. It was a big decision, and it’s a lot of work. I have gained back some of the mobility a foreskin provides during sex, so the skin will glide up and down the shaft. I’m glad to say it’s increased sensation a lot. And having the skin over the head of the penis has made the glans more sensitive and moist.

Restoration is not easy though. It’s an emotional, never-ending process. So much skin is cut off during circumcision that it can take nearly a decade of consistent foreskin restoration to gain back the amount of skin amputated. It takes a lot of patience, time and perseverance, and at times I want to give up. But it makes me feel empowered in a way to get some of the function that was taken from me. I’m hoping one day in the future I’ll be happier with my body.

A couple of years ago, I talked to my mom about it. I just wanted to share my feelings with her and hear the reasons she gave for agreeing to it. Her reasons were common: It’s just what everyone did. My dad was circumcised. They didn’t think twice about it.

Nothing she said was surprising to me, but I felt like it was good for me to express how I felt about it.

Intact America has provided a supportive community as I continue to heal. I get the newsletters and donate on a monthly basis. Reading about the experiences of others in the Voices column has helped me a lot; it’s given me a sense that I’m not alone. Friends who share the same pain are also a source of comfort. I’ve tried to talk to colleagues and family members when they were pregnant, hoping they would avoid it if I present the facts and how it’s affected me. But people are set in their ways, and they continue to perpetuate it with the next generation.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for years, since I started restoration. One thing I’ve learned is I can’t save the world. But I can do my part, and that’s why I’m sharing my story here.

Tom Kallas

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.

Voices — Wallace Muenzenberger

The 23rd of December 1947 is a day I’ll never forget. That is when I first learned, to my horror, what a circumcision was.

I was raised Roman Catholic and attended 12 years of parochial school. That day marked the last class before Christmas break, and the teacher (a nun) explained why January 1 was a holy day of obligation. (It’s the Feast of the Circumcision.)

In that moment, I understood immediately what had been done to my body. I understood why I was never comfortable there and why my clothes were always irritating me. I realized then that the head of my penis was meant to be covered. It was this unnatural exposure that was causing me to experience an almost constant state of semi-arousal. It’s not normal to be exposed that way. Being sexually aware and acting on that awareness are two, very different, things. I was an introvert, and thus a shy child, and there was no one with whom I could speak. I never broached the subject with my parents because I knew they would dismiss it, hoping I’d forget about it.

This is not considered a “normal” preoccupation, but then, having a scar encircling one’s penis isn’t “normal” either in most of the world, no matter how much our American culture insists that it is.

As a gay man who had wished since childhood for a foreskin to soothe the constant discomfort, I always found the circumcised penis ugly and to be a turn-off. It’s difficult to explain the trauma of being unable to discreetly identify intact gay men with whom to engage in sex, especially as an introvert.

This act that was done to me without my consent makes me very angry. I’ve channeled that anger into researching circumcision and the arguments for and against it for more than 75 years now. I still don’t understand why someone would amputate a normal body part simply because they have accepted without question the notion that it’s not clean.

For some reason in American culture, we don’t talk about the penis in a matter-of-fact way, and we definitely don’t talk about its foreskin—except to say that it’s dirty. What this is referring to is smegma, a word normally heard only in the context of jokes. Smegma is a natural lubricant the body produces to prevent the foreskin lining from adhering to the glans. It’s made of body oils, skin cells and moisture. Every body produces smegma—it’s between our toes and behind our ears, anywhere skin folds against itself. We just give it a quick wash and get on with our day.

The idea that a foreskin is dirty is a uniquely American notion. We’ve been cutting it off for six generations. We’re the only advanced nation where cutting off the foreskin of a male infant is routine practice, and we don’t even know why. The medical community makes all sorts of excuses that don’t hold up to science—while the rest of the advanced nations think we’re crazy. It’s sexual violence on an infant. It’s just insane.

But it’s so normalized. At a recent medical appointment, the doctor asked me to list every surgery I had ever had. I included circumcision on that list, but when I reviewed notes from the appointment, I realized she had left that one off. It has become so ubiquitous that she didn’t even mention it.

I’m 82 years old, and I’ve become more outspoken about this. I have repeatedly sent email letters to my congressmen and women and my senators, and their response is, “There, there. Don’t worry about it. We’re taking care of you.” They don’t see the harm that’s been done. I really feel that most American men have the attitude that it was done to them and there’s nothing they can do about it now. But it’s a human rights issue. And no one wants to listen.

Wallace Muenzenberger

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.

“Do You Know?” May Is Masturbation Month

May is Masturbation Month. If you missed it, you can always indulge belatedly!

Intact America followers probably know that circumcising boys (and even girls) by doctors began around 150 years ago as a “remedy” for masturbation. Victorian era doctors believed that onanism (another term for masturbation) could cause lunacy and many other diseases, both moral and physical.

Journalist David Gollaher, in his book Circumcision: A History of the World’s Most Controversial Surgery, writes about how cereal magnate John Harvey Kellogg “recommended performing circumcision ‘without administering an anesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if connected with the idea of punishment.” Other doctors in the late 19th century advocated for the use of blistering fluids on the genitals (of boys as well as girls) to both deter and punish self-pleasuring.

Amazing, isn’t it, that this history has been lost on those who deny that circumcision harms boys and men?

If you’re over 50, you probably remember the brouhaha when Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in 1994 talked publicly about masturbation as a natural and positive human behavior. She was ridiculed and eventually resigned from her post, but not without removing some of the stigma surrounding the subject. A year later, the sex shop Good Vibrations declared May National Masturbation Month. Put it on your calendar, but no need to wait until next year to celebrate!