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Voices – Mark Wilder

For most of my life, circumcision was not an issue. I was circumcised, and I noticed one of my childhood friends was intact, but aside from that I didn’t give it much thought. Sometime in my mid-40s, however, I read an article about the unnecessary circumcision of American baby boys.

Everything changed for me that day. It was like a light had been switched on, and as the thought stayed with me, I became angrier. Foreskins are part of the whole male infant at birth. No parent has any right to clip away a child’s body part unless there is an immediate medical reason to do so. If he wants to have his penis circumcised when he’s 18 years old, that is his decision.

As the years went by, I became more and more upset that I had been robbed of my birthright. When I asked my mother why she had had me circumcised, she said she wanted to make it easier for me to keep my penis clean. I couldn’t believe it. Young boys can’t be taught to clean themselves? Girls are.

Among the benefits of foreskin are the thousands of nerve endings it contains that contribute to sexual pleasure. Studies have shown that the circumcised penis has less sensitivity than one that is intact. I have restored about 80 percent of my foreskin over 15 years, but it will never act the way real foreskin acts. It’s more of a psychological thing for me, although I also feel better physically.

When I broach the subject with others, both women and men give me many reasons they had their sons circumcised. “I don’t want my son looking like he didn’t come from me” is a favorite among fathers. I have had a hard time managing my anger in those moments, and I found out quickly that confrontation only leads to anger on their part. They feel threatened that I am messing with their rights as parents.

I’ve learned to temper my anger during conversations, but I still find it difficult, if not impossible, to bring up the subject with family members and close friends. I don’t mean to blame—I want to educate, open their eyes—but they usually go on the defensive.

I know Intact America’s goal is to change the way Americans think about circumcision. It’s hard for many parents to agree with the case against circumcision if they gave the go-ahead when their sons were born. But even if I can’t convince them that it’s wrong, I can plant a seed of curiosity. Perhaps they’ll explore the topic further on their own and change their minds, persuade their friends, and help to bring an end to the practice of cutting babies.

Mark Wilder, intactivist from the great state of Washington

Interested in lending your voice? Send an email to [email protected], giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.



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.