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Voices — Luke Davis

When I was born in the early 1990s, my mother chose not to have me circumcised. She did the same for my older brother. She’s a nurse, and she knew it wasn’t medically beneficial the way everyone makes it out to be. But we were unusual for American boys. And even though she had insisted on it at our births, we just didn’t talk about it. We weren’t super-open about discussing these things. (Our father, who had wanted us to be circumcised to “look like him,” was no longer around when we were growing up.)

By the time I got to middle school, an age when kids become more sexually aware, it dawned on me that having a foreskin was unusual. I overheard other kids talking about how gross they thought an uncircumcised penis was. It especially affected me when a girl said it.

When you’re a young boy coming of age, you’re trying to figure out a lot of things. In sex-ed, circumcision wasn’t talked about too much. Everyone assumed it was the norm, but the pictures didn’t look like my penis, and I wasn’t going to raise my hand as a 12-year-old.

It eventually got so I couldn’t change in the locker room because I didn’t want people to see. I was so insecure and shy about being different from everyone that when I was 17, I spoke to my doctor about being circumcised. She was a really down-to-earth doctor, and she told me it was unnecessary to do so. She said, “You’re very used to having a foreskin, and it could be something you’ll regret.” Still, she said if it was my wish, she would put me in touch with somebody. I got nervous and decided not to do it.

In truth, a part of me truly liked being uncircumcised, but I was embarrassed to admit it. It took me a long time to come to terms with it. The turning point came when I was 25 and living with a roommate, a woman from Canada who had been in the U.S. for a little while. She glimpsed my penis accidentally one day. We had a comfortable rapport, and some time later we were talking when the conversation turned to circumcision. She said the procedure is rarely performed in Canada and that she had never seen a circumcised penis. This opened my eyes. That’s when I put it all together. I felt validated, realizing this is not as uncommon or weird as I once thought it was. To hear a woman my age in my friend group say she thinks it’s wrong and can’t fathom why anyone would do that to a child set me on a more confident path. After our conversation, I went online to learn more about how it’s viewed around the world.

That’s where I started my journey to understand the issue from a global perspective, and today I’m 100 percent glad I’m intact. Over time, I realized that I honestly like the look of it. My penis is not mutilated or scarred. I think it’s aesthetically pleasing. I hope anyone who feels alone and weird like I did as a kid knows that they’re absolutely not alone. In fact, outside of the U.S. and a few other places, most of the men in the world are just like you—intact

Luke Davis

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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.