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Voices — Tom Kallas

I am a circumcised gay male, and one of my earliest sexual relationships was with someone who was intact. That was when I found out what a foreskin was and first heard of circumcision.

This was all new to me. Growing up in the U.S., we never learned about the foreskin in school. I just thought a circumcised penis was what a natural penis looked like. I became really curious: Why was the foreskin cut off when I was a baby?

In my initial research about 15 years ago, everything about circumcision online was misinformation about how it’s good for you: It prevents STDs, it’s cleaner, and all the different reasons that Americans have to justify it. So in the beginning, the research made me feel better about it.

But as I got older, I encountered more men who were intact. They were clearly enjoying sex more; it was a more pleasurable sensation for them. So I did more research and came across Intact America and other organizations that try to educate the public on the harms of circumcision. I quickly realized all the things I had read to justify circumcision weren’t valid reasons to do that to someone at such a young age without his consent.

That’s when I started to feel really bad about it. I felt disabled in a way. By now I knew the foreskin has a valuable function; without it, I felt like I was missing a limb. So a little over six years ago, I decided to try foreskin restoration. It was a big decision, and it’s a lot of work. I have gained back some of the mobility a foreskin provides during sex, so the skin will glide up and down the shaft. I’m glad to say it’s increased sensation a lot. And having the skin over the head of the penis has made the glans more sensitive and moist.

Restoration is not easy though. It’s an emotional, never-ending process. So much skin is cut off during circumcision that it can take nearly a decade of consistent foreskin restoration to gain back the amount of skin amputated. It takes a lot of patience, time and perseverance, and at times I want to give up. But it makes me feel empowered in a way to get some of the function that was taken from me. I’m hoping one day in the future I’ll be happier with my body.

A couple of years ago, I talked to my mom about it. I just wanted to share my feelings with her and hear the reasons she gave for agreeing to it. Her reasons were common: It’s just what everyone did. My dad was circumcised. They didn’t think twice about it.

Nothing she said was surprising to me, but I felt like it was good for me to express how I felt about it.

Intact America has provided a supportive community as I continue to heal. I get the newsletters and donate on a monthly basis. Reading about the experiences of others in the Voices column has helped me a lot; it’s given me a sense that I’m not alone. Friends who share the same pain are also a source of comfort. I’ve tried to talk to colleagues and family members when they were pregnant, hoping they would avoid it if I present the facts and how it’s affected me. But people are set in their ways, and they continue to perpetuate it with the next generation.

I’ve been seeing a therapist for years, since I started restoration. One thing I’ve learned is I can’t save the world. But I can do my part, and that’s why I’m sharing my story here.

Tom Kallas

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


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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.