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IOTM – Dan Strandjord

JANUARY 2015: This month, Intact America honors Dan Strandjord. He’s the man popularly known around the University of Chicago Medical Center as the Foreskin Guy. For the past decade, every weekday, Dan has stood with his sign—a one-man, constant protest against that institution’s participation in the circumcision industry.

Dan was born in Maryland and grew up in Chicago. As a young boy, he experienced an inappropriate genital examination by a University of Chicago pediatrician—something that affected him for many years.

Becoming aware of the intactivist movement galvanized Dan into becoming an active opponent of the practice that had harmed him. “I was finally able to start dealing with my lifelong issues about circumcision in late 1998,” he says. The next spring, Marilyn Milos organized a national meeting about the 1999 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) circumcision policy in Chicago, where the AAP headquarters is located. “I met an amazing group of people who were excited to do something to protect children and I realized that we must do more to make the issue known.”

Over the next few years, Dan began speaking out, but found little support from the institution that had been at least partly responsible for the violation of his human rights. The motto of the University of Chicago Medical Center, Dan points out, is “At the Forefront of Medicine.” Yet that institution has the highest rate of infant circumcision in the city—more than double that of other hospitals.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was in 2004 when Dan asked Susan Gzesh, executive director of the University of Chicago Center for Human Rights, if he could speak with her about genital integrity for all children—male, female and intersex—and she refused. “She said, ‘I know what you’re going to say; I don’t agree with you; and I’m not going to talk with you about it,'” Dan recounts.

“So I said, I’m going to talk with anybody who WILL talk with me, then, and I’ll do it out in the street!”

In June 2004, Dan started standing in front of that institution’s medical center, protesting circumcision. For more than a decade, every weekday, weather permitting, Dan is there for an hour or two.

The first time people see me, they can’t believe someone is out there doing this, says Dan. “Most of the people who do come to talk to me, already agree with me. [But] this is a topic that you have to think about for a while, and so even if people don’t stop to talk, they see the signs. They have to think about it. That really helps to keep me doing this, because I know I’m making a difference I know I’m affecting even the people who haven’t stopped to talk with me. I’m also delighted to be called Foreskin Guy—I WANT people to talk about me. Because even if they tell somebody that I must be a crazy old man, somebody might say, “Well, maybe he’s got something there!”

Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, agrees. “The importance of speaking out in public about the travesty of forced circumcision cannot be overstated,” she says. “Dan’’s decade-long protest is a most unique and powerful testament to the importance of the issue that the University of Chicago fails to address.”

Later this month, Dan will be retiring to Aurora, Colorado. He will be leaving his post at the medical center, but plans to find new ways to work for the intactivist cause.

About Intact America, Dan says, “I’m so glad that we now have an organization whose main function is to be out front and speak out loudly about protecting children by sending a clear message that foreskin is not a birth defect and that every male has a right to all the functions and pleasure that his body was designed for.”

“I’m very optimistic. I’’m on the right side of history with this.”

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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.