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IOTM – Marilyn Milos

MARCH 2016: March’s Intactivist of the Month is Marilyn Milos, RN, director of NOCIRC and Genital Autonomy America. Early this month, Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), announced the renaming and reframing of the mission of her 30-year old organization. On the second page of the NOCIRC newsletter, in a personal letter to her supporters, Marilyn describes her growing involvement in Genital Autonomy, an international organization headquartered in England, and the establishment of a U.S. branch of that organization under her leadership.

Without question, Marilyn is the “mother of the intactivist movement,” born when as a young nurse she witnessed the mutilation of a helpless infant at the hands of a physician in a California hospital.

Yet, with her customary humility, Marilyn takes little personal credit for the founding of this human rights cause, the movement’s growth, and the increasing public acknowledgment of its legitimacy over the years. What Marilyn does say in her letter, though, is that she feels the movement to protect boys from routine circumcision, a uniquely American medical phenomenon, is in good hands. She cites her direct involvement in the founding of Intact America, and says she now feels free to “shift focus” to international efforts to promote the autonomy rights of male, female and intersex persons.

The new organization Marilyn will lead is called Genital Autonomy America, or GA-America . It will function under the international GA rubric, and in collaboration with a growing number of other GA organizations in Western Europe, Canada and Australia.

Answering an obvious question, Marilyn says: “Some people have asked if I’m retiring. How could I?” She continues, “Besides establishing and leading GA-America, I am working on a book about the history of NOCIRC, I continue to field dozens of phone calls and emails every week, and I work with Georganne and Intact America, writing the monthly “Do You Know…” feature for the IA newsletter. I want to thank all of you for your efforts on behalf of infants and children and for your friendship, and I hope you will support me in my new endeavors as the movement for the rights of all children continues to evolve locally, nationally, and globally.”

To read the Marilyn’s full message about the retirement of the NOCIRC name and the establishment of GA-America, see page 2 of her most recent newsletter.

Says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America, “Marilyn is that rare person whose response to a single event can open up a moral universe. The circumcision she witnessed nearly 40 years ago set in motion a new human rights movement. Whether under the name NOCIRC, or GA-America, Marilyn will continue to be a beacon of inspiration to all of us working to protect children and support adults who have been damaged — directly or indirectly — from forced genital surgery.

“Intact America is immensely proud that Marilyn was one of our founding members, and to be able to count on her ongoing involvement,” Georganne continues. “Marilyn told me, in the context of establishing GA-America, that she’s so gratified that others have taken up the banner of American intactivism — and that groups such as Your Whole Baby are engaged in the type of local education and activism historically carried out by the former NOCIRC Centers. We honor Marilyn for her past and present work, for her wisdom, compassion and bravery, for the millions of babies spared the painful loss of their normal sexual anatomy, and for the future victory that — working together — we will certainly achieve.”

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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.