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IOTM – Dr. Christopher Guest

JULY 2013: It’s rare that a physician will speak out publicly against circumcision; so many are still afraid of repercussions within the medical establishment. Christopher Guest, MD, however, has taken a courageous route for nearly 20 years.

A vascular and interventional radiologist in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Guest is the founder of the Children’s Health and Human Rights Partnership. He’s been opposed to circumcision since 1994, when he refused to participate in forced infant circumcision during medical school, and has produced several powerful videos aimed at educating the public about the practice,

Dr. Guest’s most recent video, “Circumcision: The Whole Story,” co-produced by the Barrie (Ontario) Midwives, addresses the culture of circumcision. The video (also embedded at the bottom of this page) explores the historical origins of circumcision, explains the physiological functions of the foreskin, and discusses commonly believed myths and scientific truths. Its focus on sexuality and evolution is particularly straightforward and helpful. “Our genitals have an evolutionary track record of efficiency and success,” he explains. “And it’s not just our species—all mammals have a foreskin.”

The video is a fantastic introduction to anyone who’s new to the issue, from newly pregnant parents-to-be, to friends and family who’d never thought about circumcision until you brought it up. Says intactivist videographer James Loewen, “Anyone who would insist upon cutting a male child after seeing this video needs to admit that they are causing serious physical damage to a child based upon misinformation, superstition and/or prejudice.”

Last year, Dr. Guest spoke at the Central Ontario Humanist Association, discussing circumcision history, ethics, and human rights. You can watch his speech on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2).

In a recent interview with Intact America, Dr. Guest told us, “As a radiologist, the continual scientific advancements in medicine never cease to amaze me: CT scanners that image pulsating coronary arteries, fMRI machines that actually watch your brain think, tiny catheters that drill through blockages in arteries. In this age of modern medicine, with all of our technology and knowledge and progress, how is it possible for physicians to promote such a primitive and cruel practice as circumcision? It is difficult to imagine anything more disturbing than the ritualistic mutilation of infant genitalia. The medicalization of this ritual is simply a disgrace to our profession. Forced infant circumcision is medically unethical, it is irrational, it is unscientific and it constitutes a gross violation of human rights. On behalf of many Canadian physicians who oppose circumcision, I commend Intact America for educating health care providers about the sexual and mechanical function of the foreskin, as well as for protecting the human rights of children in the U.S. and throughout the world.”

“Dr. Christopher Guest,” says Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s executive director, “blends a scientist’s observations with a humanitarian’s sensibilities—and the moral courage to speak out against an atrocity so blithely ignored by much of the medical profession in the United States and Canada. Would that more physicians followed his example! Intact America is pleased to welcome Dr. Guest to our Board of Health Professionals, and to share his wonderful new video, which sets the record straight about the normal male body and the harms of surgically altering it.”

You can watch “Circumcision: The Whole Story” here:

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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.