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IOTM – Dr. John Trainer

AUGUST 2015: August’s Intactivist of the Month is Dr. John Trainer, physician and father of five. As a resident in Family Medicine, Dr. John Trainer was taught to perform routine infant circumcision — “one of literally dozens of procedures that residents learn,” he says. “Residents endure the pressures of stress and fatigue rendering some too tired to stop and ask questions like, Why are we learning and doing these things?”

When Dr. Trainer completed his residency and began practice in Jacksonville, Florida, he didn’t give the matter of circumcision any thought.

His first encounter with an anti-circumcision ideology was in 2012, when he discovered a post by Jennifer Andersen in her blog, Our Muddy Boots, in which she writes: “There is a sentence that many who describe circumcision use, “The more you know (about circumcision), the more you’re against it.”

Dr. Trainer believed that he knew a lot about circumcision, and he was not against it. But he made an agreement with himself to keep an open mind about the procedure.

In 2014, the Florida case (Hironimus v. Nebus) of estranged parents fighting over a shared custody document ended in a court order to circumcise a 4-year-old. This jarred Dr. Trainer who, as a father, thought “This is a huge procedure to perform on a child who is old enough to remember it.”

Around the same time, the CDC released its draft document validating circumcision for teens and adult men as a means of reducing HIV transmission. Dr. Trainer looked at the CDC’s own source data, and was shocked to see such an influential organization recommend a surgical procedure that provides less protection than a simple condom.

It was then, he says, that the “scales fell from my eyes.” Circumcision now seemed absurd. Dr. Trainer’s professional presence on social media quickly evolved to reflect his new understanding. And his contacts within the intactivist community started to grow.

In early summer 2015, a surgeon in South Florida proposed to circumcise the Hironimus boy. As the intactivist community flooded DiMaggio hospital with protests, Dr. Trainer made a brief post on Facebook, observing that to proceed with this procedure, on this child, would represent a serious breach of medical ethics. Dr. Trainer publicly committed to report such actions to the Florida state board of medicine.

Happily, the surgeon and his hospital stepped back from their plans. But along the way, Dr. Trainer’s voice caught the attention of a newspaper editor from Fort Lauderdale. His interview with the paper garnered tremendous attention on social media. And it caught the eye of Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America.

Speaking about Trainer, Chapin says: “Unfortunately, most physicians are loathe to speak out against the practice of circumcising babies and children — even though they know it is not necessary and that it can cause harm. Dr. John Trainer is a rarity, and we salute him for his willingness to not only change his own opinion, but to openly call out his colleagues who continue to cut the genitals of helpless children.”

“I have learned so much in a short time,” says Dr. Trainer. “There is a very important role for grassroots activism — face to face, friend to friend, our message will spread. That is the place for emotion and anecdote. But there is also a need for an organized source of factual information, presented with gravitas. IA provides that source. I am so grateful for every person who stands up for genital integrity. But I am also grateful for the corporate presence that lends another dimension to our fight.”



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.