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IOTM – Adam Zeldis

SEPTEMBER 2013: Intact America is delighted to honor Adam Zeldis, whose enthusiasm has brought new energy to the intactivist movement. Between his dedication to helping the Intact America staff, his technical skills, and his incredible energy, Adam has become truly indispensable!

Born in New Jersey and based now in New York City, Adam, 30, became aware of circumcision after hearing Howard Stern rant about it on the radio 15 years ago.

Almost immediately, Adam began talking about circumcision with his high school classmates and teachers. He convinced his health teacher to give a lecture on the subject, and he wrote an English paper about the word circumcision. “The word is a euphemism for what we’re actually doing to the penis,” he explains. “It’s a mutilation.” While a student at George Washington University, he founded a chapter of Students for Genital Integrity, and attended a NOCIRC symposium in 2002.

By day, Adam works full-time as a web developer for a video technology firm and runs his own small business, Veriwalk (an app for dog owners like himself, to keep track of petsitters and dogwalkers). ). But his passion is intactivism, and you’ll often find him at demonstrations, baby fairs, and public protests against forced circumcision. Earlier this year, Adam was one of a handful of rocking intactivists who attended a Bill Clinton lecture and interrupted it to call attention to the Clinton Foundation’s efforts to push circumcision in Africa under false premises.

There have been moments when it’s been difficult, however. “This is brutal work,” he explains in an interview with intactivist videographer James Loewen (filmed at the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics demonstration in New Orleans and included at the bottom of this page). “You have to contend with people who feel strongly about the subject for religious or cultural reasons, and you’re telling people that something that was done to them or their children is wrong. Then you have to deal with a cognitive dissonance.”

In fact, Adam credits that cognitive dissonance with the perpetuation of circumcision as a cultural phenomenon. “It happens when you’re presented with information that may be contrary to your beliefs, or about a decision you have made in the past or something that was forced upon you. And circumcision is all of that. You can’t do anything about it, a lot of the time you become defensive, or you laugh at it, or you try and belittle it or trivialize it. This is the psychology that allows circumcision to continue to exist.”

Adam also talks about his experience broaching the issue with his parents. “It took me 3-4 years to bring it up. They didn’t do it for religious reasons. It was for cosmetics and to assimilate with American culture and society.” He’s grateful that they were receptive to him, and while he harbors them no ill will, he’s still angry about what was done to him, “This is a scourge in our society.”

Over the last year, Adam has become an honorary member of the Intact America team, lending his technical expertise to many of our web-based projects and campaigns. “I have nothing but reverence for people who have helped make Intact America a reality,” he says. “For a long time now, the intactivist movement has been searching for a strong, professional presence that could make our message heard in the media, amongst human rights activists, and the general public. With Intact America and the leadership of Georganne Chapin, we have found that presence. I have no doubt that when genital cutting ends, Intact America and NOCIRC will be the organizations credited with leading the charge.”

“Adam’s the greatest,” said Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s Executive Director. “He’s right up there with the rest of the IA team—smart, fast, and a pleasure to work with!”

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.