JUNE 2011: Gillian Longley, a neonatal nurse and devoted intactivist, has been co-coordinator of the Colorado chapter of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) since 2005, and is a member of Intact America’s Board of Health Professionals. She speaks out frequently in defense of infants and their right to genital integrity, and has discussed circumcision and the intact penis with nurses, doctors, doulas, midwives, parents, legislators, and academic audiences. Her two-part “Mother Nurse Intactivist” video, which tells the story of how she became involved in intactivism, brings a loving, empathetic voice to the plight of nurses and mothers forced to deal with this barbaric practice.

“I saw circumcisions as a nursing student, and at that point I had a gut feeling that it was barbaric, that I would never do this to my own children.” After raising two intact sons, Gillian resumed her work in hospitals, and found herself face to face with the same issue — children being forced to undergo painful, medically unnecessary surgery. “The revulsion I had felt before was still there.” She refused to participate in circumcisions, and began researching the issue more thoroughly. “I realized, this is wrong, REALLY wrong! I’ve got to make sure this ends, do something to change what’s going on in this country with circumcision.”

Gillian also champions the right of medical professionals to object to performing or assisting in circumcisions. “An important change that needs to happen is instituting support for doctors and nurses who object to participating in circumcisions as a matter of conscience. I myself have twice been threatened with termination from my hospital job for refusing to assist with circumcisions, and have had to fight for recognition of my right to conscientious objection. I believe that when enough health professionals are educated about the value of the foreskin and the ethical problems with non-consenting circumcision of minors, more and more of them will be willing to stand up and say, ‘No, I will not participate in this.'”

“Gillian’s willingness to speak out bravely in the workplace is a huge inspiration to intactivists who themselves have been intimidated and vilified for their efforts to protect babies from a cruel and mindless custom,” says Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s executive director. “Her mastery of the medical facts also makes her an effective teacher with parents and other health care professionals. Gillian is a jewel.”

Addendum: Longley is now involved with Nurses for the Rights of the Child.