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In the discourse surrounding health, autonomy, and cultural practices, circumcision stands as one of the most polarizing and debated topics. The call for reevaluation of this deeply embedded, completely irreversible, permanent procedure stems from concerns over consent, bodily integrity, and the lack of necessity of this surgery in modern medicine. This article aims to shed light on the critical arguments against routine circumcision, highlighting the importance of preserving bodily autonomy, questioning traditional medical practices, and promoting a more informed decision-making process for parents and individuals alike.

As we consider the reasons to reconsider circumcision, it’s essential to approach this conversation with empathy, open-mindedness, and a commitment to understanding the benefits of remaining intact. The goal is to inform and advocate for a future where every individual’s right to bodily integrity is respected and upheld.

Horrifying and Heartbreaking Circumcision Stories

10) Lew Rose — Death of A Son

In the shadow of a profound loss, Lew Rose reflected on a decision made decades earlier, one that irrevocably altered his son’s life: the choice of infant circumcision. This choice, made with a blend of societal pressure and the young father’s naivety, became a source of unspoken tension, a silent rift that, though never fully explored, lingered beneath the surface. The father, now carrying the weight of his son’s untimely passing, had to grapple with the realization that his first act as a parent was one of irreversible change to his son’s body, made without consent, driven by cultural norms rather than medical necessity.

“What possible ethical justification was there for me to commit to permanently surgically removing healthy tissue from another person’s body without his permission? Being born with a functional foreskin is not a medical emergency, and therefore is not justification for surgical intervention initiated by me as a parent, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies or anyone else.”  — Lew Rose

This acknowledgment led him down a path of deep remorse and self-forgiveness, transforming his grief into a commitment to advocate for bodily autonomy and the rights of individuals to make informed choices about their own bodies. Through his poignant story, he extends a heartfelt apology to his son and all those who have experienced similar loss without their consent, hoping to ignite a conversation about respect, consent, and the inherent value of every individual’s bodily integrity.

Click here to read Lew Rose’s full story. 

9)  Cassie Parks — A Regret Mom

Cassie Parks went through the traumatic experience of her son Jude’s forced retraction, a moment that haunts her to this day. Despite the initial intent of a routine medical check-up for Jude’s sickness, the situation quickly escalated into a nightmare when a nurse forcibly retracted his foreskin, causing immense pain and trauma to the two-month-old. Cassie’s recount of Jude’s screams, the sight of his injured self, and the subsequent pain he endured is a chilling testament to the dangers of medical misinformation and the lack of awareness around proper genital care.

“I knew forced retraction does happen, but it didn’t occur to me that it could happen in a children’s hospital. It wasn’t even in my head space. It’s one of those things you don’t think will ever happen to you or your loved ones.” — Cassie Parks

Cassie’s story is not just about the physical harm done to Jude but also highlights a mother’s agony, guilt, and the emotional turmoil that followed. It’s a reminder of the vulnerability of our little ones in the hands of healthcare practices that may not always be in their best interest. The judgment and misinformation she faced from medical staff added insult to injury, underscoring the pervasive myths surrounding circumcision and foreskin care.

Driven by the pain of the incident and the desire to prevent such suffering for others, Cassie took legal action, aiming for justice and enforcing a change in hospital protocols regarding foreskin care. Her journey from a traumatized parent to an intactivist advocate underscores the resilience and courage it takes to challenge deeply ingrained medical practices and societal norms. 

Click here to read Cassie Parks’ full story.

8) Robert Clover Johnson — Long-term Circumcision Trauma

Robert Clover Johnson’s journey of self-discovery and healing spanned decades, beginning with a seemingly simple exercise in a Bioenergetics/Primal Therapy session that unexpectedly unlocked a torrent of long-suppressed emotions. As a quiet library assistant, Johnson embarked on this path, not fully understanding the depths of unresolved feelings that lay dormant within him, a journey prompted by a friend’s intuition that he had unexpressed feelings needing an outlet. This led him from moments of unexplained emotional release during therapy to a startling revelation in his later years, triggered by a tender moment with his wife that unearthed a deeply buried memory of circumcision trauma experienced as an infant.

“My genital integrity, I learned, had been brutally and agonizingly violated shortly after birth. Most of my erogenous nerves and the sensitive sheathe that protect the mucous membrane of the glans had been ripped and severed from my penis.” — Robert Clover Johnson

Johnson’s story is an exploration of the long-term emotional and physical impacts of neonatal circumcision, a practice he had never questioned until a visceral reaction led him to confront a truth that had been concealed for sixty years. His subsequent research into the practice left him disillusioned by the realization of what was done to him without his consent and mourning the loss of what could have been—a natural part of his body and, perhaps, a different relationship with his own sexuality and comfort.

Click here to read Robert Clover Johnson’s full story.

7)  Paul G., M.D. — A Victim of Social Norms 

At the tender age of eight, Paul was unknowingly subjected to circumcision, a decision made by his father under the guise of societal conformity and an ill-conceived notion of belonging. This invasive procedure, performed without his consent or understanding, severed part of his body and his trust and emotional connection with his father, leaving a chasm that could never be bridged.

“I can still remember waking up after surgery in agony from pain radiating from my damaged penis, the pain I can still vividly recollect and which will occasionally reoccur even at age 72. I was too young at age eight to verbalize my emotional distress, but I knew that I had been irrevocably injured.” — Paul G., M.D.

Years of repressed memories, denial, and attempts at self-reconstruction followed, highlighting Paul’s desperate attempts to reclaim a part of his identity that was forcefully taken from him. His journey through medical school further solidified his stance against non-consensual circumcision, even as he navigated the complexities of medical practices that often go unquestioned.

Click here to read Paul G’s full story.

6) Damon Favor — Fighting to Keep his Son Intact

Damon Favor’s journey as a father and an intactivist is a testament to the courage and resilience required to challenge deeply ingrained medical and cultural practices. From the moment of his own awakening to the harsh realities of circumcision, Damon was determined that his children would remain intact, spared from a procedure he fundamentally opposed. However, this decision set the stage for numerous confrontations that Damon and his wife would face, first with the healthcare system, which aggressively advocated for circumcision, and later with various caregivers and educators unfamiliar with caring for an intact child.

“The fight to protect my son didn’t stop when we left the hospital after his birth. Although he was never forcibly retracted, one of his pediatricians wanted to. I had warned my wife about doctors who would try to retract.” — Damon Favor

The relentless pressure from hospital staff to circumcise his newborn son, despite explicit instructions to the contrary, highlights the pervasive nature of this practice in American hospitals. Damon’s unwavering vigilance and insistence on always accompanying his son underscore the lengths to which he had to go to protect his child’s bodily autonomy. His experience with his daughter further illuminates the assumption of circumcision as the norm within the medical community, an assumption Damon countered with informed refusal and advocacy for his children’s right to remain whole.

Damon’s narrative also sheds light on the broader challenges of raising intact children in a society where circumcision is widely practiced. The need for constant education and advocacy, even among family and caregivers, underscores the pervasive lack of understanding and respect for genital integrity in the United States. Damon’s move to Italy and the stark contrast in attitudes towards circumcision he encountered there further emphasize the cultural specificity of this practice and the ignorance that fuels its continuation in the U.S.

Click here to read Damon Favor’s full story. 

5) Marilyn Milos — Nurse Turned Intactivist 

For over three decades, Marilyn Milos, RN, has been a steadfast advocate in the fight against forced circumcision, driven by a moment that forever changed her life. As a young nurse witnessing a circumcision, she experienced an emotional upheaval that would propel her into lifelong activism. The primal scream of a baby undergoing the procedure without any medical necessity, coupled with the realization of her own sons’ pain, ignited a fire within Marilyn that led to the foundation of NOCIRC, now Genital Autonomy – America, and her significant role in Intact America.

“The doctor looked at me and said, “There is no medical reason for doing this!” This baby was being tortured, and I just realized what had been done to my sons and that my own doctor had lied to me.” — Marilyn Milos

Marilyn’s journey is one of relentless determination and courage. Facing adversity, professional isolation, and the daunting challenge of changing entrenched societal norms, she never wavered in her commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. Her story is a powerful testament to the impact one individual can have in challenging and changing harmful practices. The establishment of Intact America marked a significant milestone, elevating the intactivist movement with unprecedented resources and outreach capabilities, thanks to the support of a generous donor moved by Marilyn’s dedication.

Marilyn’s tireless work underscores a fundamental ethical question that remains unanswered by medical organizations and professionals who continue to support circumcision: Why is it acceptable to alter the bodies of those who cannot consent? Her advocacy, alongside Intact America, challenges misinformation, confronts profit-driven motives, and advocates for the rights of all individuals to bodily integrity and autonomy.

Click here to read Marilyn Milos’ full story.

4) David Arnold — Lifelong Circumcision Trauma 

Born in 1942 and circumcised under distressing circumstances, David carried the unconscious memory of this early pain into adulthood, a hidden scar that influenced his relationships, career choices, and psychological health. It wasn’t until a deeply emotional conversation with his mother at the age of 43 that the truth of his circumcision — a procedure that nearly cost him part of his penis and was dismissively justified by a doctor — came to light. This revelation was a pivotal moment, offering clarity and understanding of his lifelong struggles with trust, security, and physical pain.

“She named and swore at the obstetrician, telling me how he had nearly cut off the end of my penis and then sewn it back on with five stitches. She exclaimed how the doctor had insisted that newborns did not feel pain, that the circumcision process did not hurt and could not be the cause of my distress in her frantic attempts to feed me.” — David Allen

Choosing to leave a promising career in the Coast Guard, David began healing and discovering himself through depth psychology and body-centered psychotherapy. This path led him to become a practitioner himself. His experiences underline the critical importance of recognizing and addressing the psychological and physical consequences of infant circumcision, a practice still widely accepted and unchallenged in many parts of society.

Click here to read David Arnold’s full story. 

3)  Sergio Serratto — Challenging the Circumcision Status Quo 

In the whirlwind of emotions and exhaustion that accompanied the birth of his first child, Sergio Serratto faced an unexpected and nearly automatic proposition for his newborn son’s circumcision—a procedure he hadn’t even considered and was opposed to. His story highlights a pivotal moment of realization and assertion of his parental right to protect his son from an unnecessary and culturally ingrained medical practice. This experience opened Sergio’s eyes to the prevalence of routine circumcision in the United States, a stark contrast to his South American roots, where circumcision is rare and performed mainly for religious reasons.

“You trust the doctor. You trust that her advice is sound. The moment the baby is born is no time to discuss circumcision for the first time. Perhaps the timing is no coincidence.” — Sergio Serratto

Serratto’s encounter underscores the critical need for informed consent and thorough discussion about circumcision well before the vulnerable and overwhelming moments following birth. It raises concerns about how non-English-speaking families, or those unfamiliar with the American medical system’s norms, might inadvertently consent to a procedure they don’t understand or want for their children.

As an advocate with Intact America, Serratto is determined to challenge the status quo and spread awareness about the importance of bodily autonomy and the right of every child to remain intact. Through his work, he aims to ensure that parents are fully informed and prepared to protect their children’s rights, challenging deeply entrenched cultural practices and advocating for change. Serratto’s journey from a new father caught off-guard to a passionate intactivist exemplifies the power of personal experience to inspire advocacy and the pursuit of societal change for the protection of future generations.

Click here to read Sergio Serratto’s full story. 

2) Marci Eggers — Circumcision Nearly Killed Father

Marci Eggers’ journey to deciding against circumcision for her son is a testament to the importance of informed parenting decisions and the enduring impact of family narratives. The traumatic story of her father’s circumcision, shared by her grandmother, served as a stark warning against the procedure’s potential dangers and the devastating consequences of medical overreach and lack of consent. This deeply personal family history, societal pressures, and conflicting opinions set the stage for Marci’s thoughtful and thorough exploration of the subject when she found out she was expecting a boy.

“When she found out that I wasn’t planning on getting the procedure done on my baby, she made it her duty to try to change my mind, bombarding me with questions about why I thought it was a good idea. I explained to her that I had done my research and found that there is no medical reason to have this done.” — Marci Eggers

Determined to make an educated decision, Marci delved into extensive research, examining arguments from both sides of the circumcision debate. Her findings led her to the conclusion that many of the purported benefits of circumcision were unfounded and that maintaining her son’s bodily integrity was the right choice for her family. This decision, however, was challenging. Family discussions revealed deeply ingrained beliefs and societal norms, highlighting the complexities of navigating parental decisions in the face of external pressures. Despite attempts to sway her, Marci’s steadfast resolve in her decision underscores the impact that access to information and support can have on parental choices. 

Click here to read Marci Eggers’ full story. 

1) Elise Wicklund — A Different Choice   

Elise Wicklund’s journey through the heartache of her son Paxton’s circumcision to the empowered decision not to circumcise her younger son, Jaxon, is a poignant tale of pain, enlightenment, and redemption. Despite societal and familial pressures, Elise’s initial intuition against circumcision was overridden by external voices, leading to a decision that would bring profound regret and sorrow. Witnessing Paxton’s suffering and enduring her own emotional torment plunged her into a dark abyss of depression, a place where the weight of guilt and isolation felt unbearable.

“But with the first diaper change, all my fears were realized. It was no “snip”: It was an open wound. Paxton developed a painful ulcer, adhesions, and other complications that lasted a long time. He cried with every diaper change. If I went anywhere near his genitals, he would look at me in pure horror. I was sick and heartbroken. I didn’t let anybody change him but me.” — Elise Wicklund

However, Elise’s story is also one of immense hope and transformation. The birth of her daughter shortly after Paxton’s ordeal and the unwavering decision to leave Jaxon intact marked the beginning of her healing process. Through activism and connecting with others who shared her experience, Elise found a powerful outlet for her pain and a path toward healing. Her involvement in protests and advocacy work, bolstered by the support of organizations like Intact America, empowered her to reclaim her voice and stand firm in her convictions.

Elise’s experience reminds us that brothers don’t have to “match” and that the true match lies in the courage to protect and honor our children’s bodily autonomy. Through her journey, Elise has become a beacon of strength and hope for other parents navigating this deeply personal decision, showing that it’s possible to emerge from darkness into a place of empowerment, healing, and advocacy.

Click here to read Elise Wicklund’s full story.

Interested in telling your story? Send an email to [email protected] with a brief summary of what you would like to write about. Each story is about 500 words. You can write it yourself or with the help of our Voices editor, Sally Parker.