A Bill to End
Male Genital Mutilation
in the U.S.
February 2, 2015
I am a relative newcomer to this issue but not to its effects. I was circumcised as a neonate without having been asked for my consent and without my having given it. I was well into my 50s before I grasped, thanks to internet discussions about MGM and its role in decreased sexual response, that sexual intercourse is supposed to be physically pleasurable for the male.
For me, it isn't. Forced MGM ruined my sex life and has deprived me of my birthright to experience and enjoy sex as nature intended that I should. Once I realized the magnitude of the violence that was done to me and the magnitude of the violation of my basic human rights that was committed against me, I resolved to do whatever I could to oppose and to bring to an end the monstrous wrong of routine, forced infant male circumcision (MGM).
August 28, 2013
What makes me or anyone else the decider on how much penis someone else is going to be allowed to keep? Children are circumcised because they are helpless and can't say no. You are not free if you can't say no. The doctors can say no. The parents can say no. The one who can't say no is the one who is being needlessly and forcefully circumcised. The one whose freedom and rights are being taken away is the one who is not being given the choice to say no. Being free is about having a choice to say no.
We don't force this upon adults because there is a big difference between an adult and a helpless little child. We force this upon infants and children because their defenselessness can be taken advantage of.
Grants Pass, OR
May 25, 2011
I fully agree with the end of circumcision, it is barbaric and not needed. As a European male I have not been circumcised and if I had male child would never consider ever putting a child through that. I know a lot of men who are ashamed that they were circumcised.
San Diego, CA
January 4, 2011
When I was pregnant with my baby boy I researched circumcision, and after finding out there was no medical reason for it, decided to keep my son intact reasoning that it was simply not my decision to make, I didn't understand that there was any harm in doing it, though, I just wasn't going to bother with it for my son if there wasn't a medical reason. After that I pretty much stopped thinking about the issue. Being interested in attachment parenting, I joined the "Peaceful Parenting" Facebook group. In addition to promoting the usual attachment parenting issues, the group takes a very strong stance against circumcision. It was through this group's posts on circumcision that I learned that it was more than just a procedure that wasn't medically necessary, it was painful, traumatic, and dangerous and could even result in death and it diminishes sexual pleasure for both the boy and his future partner. I finally realized that the circumcision of children is a human rights violation, and want to do all I can to see that it is stopped.
Takoma Park, MD
December 21, 2010
I commend you for the important work you're doing.
It's mind boggling that we debate the "benefits and risks of circumcision". Do we have to be told not to cut off normal healthy functioning parts of our body? Do we really have to have it explained to us why cutting off a normal healthy functioning part of another person's body when he is unable to consent to it is wrong? We're under a spell. Things that are obvious to primitive man and even wild animals, are hard for us to understand.
And yes it is a huge double standard that baby boys are not given the same consideration as baby girls in the US. In northeast Africa female circumcision is almost universal. Yet, everybody there thinks it's a wonderful thing. They're under a spell, the same as we are under a spell in the US concerning the routine circumcision of boys. Different? Yes, the complete removal of the clitoris and infibulation in unsanitary conditions is more brutal and damaging. But, in the US however, it's illegal to mutilate a female in any way whatsoever. That includes less invasive types of female genital mutilation which are less damaging than what we do to our males. It's a blatant double standard.
Archaic customs like this have an effect on the mind similar to the inertia of a moving body. So many people have been blinded by it for so long that we can't stop and get off. We're too blind to see the obvious. We don't want our little boy to have a funny penis. How about if we were all just normal instead of finding comfort in the fact that we all have the same freakish mutilated penis?
Another thing that's mind boggling is when these things are done in the name of religion, which makes it even more asinine than it already is. This is done by people that claim to believe in an intelligent God that created the body, yet they disagree with how he accomplishes his work and somehow feel that they need to go back and make corrections. Freedom of religion needs to stop when it violates the rights of another individual. The same goes for parents' rights.
Circumcision is a disgrace to the human race and one of the most asinine and useless customs the US has ever adopted.
November 11, 2010
I applaud your efforts and support you 100%. The irony is that when the news of this bill in California was announced on television, the arguments from parents against the bill were, what happened to "our choice" and "our freedom". And choice and freedom are exactly the point! This bill seeks to protect the freedom of choice of the child for their own body.
When my son was born 30 years ago, I was very much on the fence about circumcision, and I made the wrong decision. I asked the surgeon what his opinion was, and even he was uncertain. We shouted back and forth at each other with indecision. So, I opted for a partial circumcision. A very stupid "choice" that I will forever regret.
In the end it's all mutilation, male and female. In the Western United States, circumcision is 30% or less, and in Europe, 20% or less. It's all primitive - let them decide for themselves.
Thank you. I support you 100%.
February 17, 2010
My name is Clara Franco and I am Mexican. I cannot point to a single reason that made me engage in this subject, but watching Penn and Teller´s documentary on it, which I found on the Web a couple of years ago, was an important start. Yet this film cannot fully explain the passion that I now feel for intactivism, or the growing rage I feel every time I hear that yet another baby boy has been strapped to a board to have the most sensitive part of his genitals cut away, most of the times with no anesthetics.
Circumcision in Mexico is much less common than in the U.S.A. Yet it does exist, and is practiced among upper classes in large cities, especially Mexico City. And even if it´s less common, it´s still seen as a quite normal, beneficial procedure that does not really affect a man. Many still believe that it is painless for an infant. Private insurers cover it; luckily, governmental health care cannot afford to. But this problem can only be solved through education: people must realize that circumcision is harmful, and a violation of Human Rights in the case of minors. Therefore Mexico Intacto, the information point that I have created in my country, wants to fully support the MGM Bill and urges the American people to support it. In an increasingly seamless world, whatever happens in countries like the U.S.A will have an influence upon the entire world. It is everyone´s duty to fight for Human Rights.
NOCIRC México -Mexico Intacto
January 9, 2010
I am involved with circumcision due to what I have witnessed as a registered nurse. As a health care professional and mother of two healthy intact boys, I want to help educate America about the truth of circumcision, and protect boys from unnecessary genital cutting. This is a human rights issue to me.
In fact I was a supporter of Amnesty Intl for many years until I learned that they oppose only female genital mutilation, but still decline to take a stance against MGM.
Anje Cassel, RN, BSN
January 6, 2010
I became involved in the fight against circumcision years ago. My 1st child, a boy almost 14, was left intact because I felt that was the right thing to do. Years later I began researching and educating myself on the issue after my oldest experienced some problems (now I know due to forcible retraction as an infant). My other son is also intact and any future boys will be as well. I work to spread the message that all children, male & female, deserve the same rights to genital integrity.
January 5, 2010
I first became involved in the intactivist movement 15 years ago when apprenticing with an experienced human sexuality professor. It was there that my eyes were opened to the horrors of circumcision while studying the impact this amputation has on human development and sexual health. After completing M.A. work in Clinical Psychology (emphasis in Human Sexuality) I began working with clients who were often diagnosed as having sexual 'dysfunctions'. More often than not, circumcision was to blame (for both men and women). It is true - you cannot change the form of the human body without also altering function. I went back to graduate school to become better versed in this subject, certain there was much more to learn. After conducting research on sexual health education in medical schools, we discovered that complete and accurate information surrounding the prepuce organ and circumcision is virtually nonexistent in U.S. medical schools today. It is no wonder that American parents are poorly informed on this subject - even our physicians do not receive adequate, up-to-date training in areas of human sexuality. I eventually moved into doctoral work in human development and sexuality, and began to work more directly with parents. My current research involves the impact that male circumcision has on neonatal breastfeeding, attachment, development and socialization, as well as its impact on women's sexual health.
My husband, personally impacted by circumcision, joined the cause after listening (day in and day out) to my own research during graduate schools, and in preparation for his future (intact) sons -- the first boys born in 3 generations of his family to remain perfectly intact.
January 3, 2010
I have no sons, but was researching the issue of circumcision before I knew the sex of my second child. I came across an article that opened my eyes to the fallacies perpetuated by the medical community, and led me to delve deeper into this disturbing issue. I watched a video of a circumcision being done and was sick to my stomach, but most of all, I was sick to my heart. I wanted to pick up the baby in the video and hold him close; I wanted to sacrifice some part of my grown body for his relief. I wanted to give my nephew an extra hug, and whisper in his ear that had I known any better, I would have tried to tell his mother otherwise. I wanted to apologize to him for not being informed and for not standing up for him. Instead, I held my infant daughter and cried into her jammies.
I want to stop this barbaric procedure from needlessly happening to innocent children who come in to this world deserving comfort, love, and support but are instead met with intolerable pain and cruelty.
October 15, 2008
Like most American males born in the ‘60s, I was circumcised as an infant. In fact, my mom was an RN, as well. I don’t blame her; I blame the medical establishment’s ignorance and blind promotion of this useless procedure. I have begun foreskin restoration as an effort to help repair some of the psychological damage and sense of physical mutilation.
July 18, 2008
As a registered nurse, medical ethics and issues of informed consent are of paramount importance to myself and others in my profession. I first became aware of the human rights violations that circumcising people without their consent entails when I was a teenager and learned of the story of Waris Darie, an African victim of female genital mutilation. I was incensed and horrified that any culture would mutilate the genitals of their girls because of custom. I quickly realized that people in my own culture mutilate the genitals of their boys because of custom.
People have mistakenly come to believe that parents have the right to cut healthy body parts off of their children. I am ashamed that my peers inflict needless suffering upon babies who have not consented to cosmetic surgery. The time has come to put this social custom to rest, and to give boys the same right to genital integrity that girls currently have.
Nanda M, R.N.
March 20, 2008
When I had my son, I hadn't researched circumcision, but when the doctor asked me if I wanted it done, I instinctively said I thought it was better to leave my son alone. Now, 14 years later, I'm glad I made the right decision. Several years later, I came across a study linking aggressive behavior to circumcision, and that's when I started to do my own research. The more I learned, the more I couldn't understand how doctors, who have pledged to "do no harm", can continue to perform this mutilation on unconsenting patients.
I'm expecting again now, and in talking to other expectant mothers, it's alarming how much misinformation is out there. People still think that circumcision has significant health benefits and that there is no function to the parts of the penis removed. Most troubling is the idea that this is a "personal choice" belonging to the parents, rather than to the owner of the body whose parts are being permanently altered. I sincerely hope that someone in Congress will step forward to sponsor this important legislation, and that others will vote for and support genital integrity of all our children, not just our girls.
February 8, 2007
I literally imagine and hope that one day people will look back in time and not believe their ears when they hear that male circumcision was actually something people did in this country.
September 19, 2006
I am a premed student just a few years away from being a practicing doctor. And I know that I may face overwhelming pressure to circumcise, but being armed with the truth will give me the backbone to not give in.
It brings great hope that there are other people who are working hard to stop this horrible practice. I feel like I am not alone in this, and I have submitted the bill to my state senators and congressmen.
September 6, 2006
When my spouse and I decided to try to have a baby, I knew for ethical reasons alone that I would never want anyone harming that child's genitals. I am hopeful that the frequent mentioning of the human rights violations of altering healthy children's genitalia will eventually lead to the end of this cruel practice. If legislators have to defend their opposition to the MGM bill, then perhaps this will encourage them to realize that their defense is weak...especially since girls are protected from FGM.
March 30, 2006
I have for several years indulged myself in a weekly massage. At one of these sessions, I noted a deep pain in my genital area, and my hands involuntarily moved to protect myself. I began to cry and was very disturbed. The session soon ended, and when the massage therapist and I spoke of what had happened, I was questioned about any memories of childhood abuse or injury in my genital area. The possibility was raised of circumcision being the source of my remembered pain.
I denied any knowledge or recognition of pain relating to my circumcision. I grew up in a middle class Jewish home with a large extended family, and ritual circumcision (brit [or bris] milah) was a common family event. Later, in medical school, I saw and even participated in circumcisions. I simply could not accept the fact that a profound trauma locked in my body and brain had been released by this therapy.
Five days later, while on a bicycle trip, my wife and I stopped at a coffee shop. There were some dog-eared books for sale on a table in a corner of the shop. My eyes were drawn to one entitled Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective. Its message resonated deeply within my body, and I was shaken to the core.
I can only describe the next few months as a period of intense anxiety and mourning for my lost foreskin. My sexual experiences in life had been so very important to me, and I now felt cheated, robbed of sensations that I would never know. Raging anger and uncontrolled sobbing were daily occurrences. After some time, these emotions came into control and have been helpful to me in my evolving role as an Intactivist.
Mark D. Reiss, M.D.
San Francisco, California
(Mark Reiss is now Executive Vice President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision)
January 28, 2006
I was very badly circumcised shortly after birth. Even after a five year process of "restoring" my foreskin, I had difficulties due to my original overly-aggressive circumcision. I despise this brutal act being performed on anyone under 18 years old. However, I do not have any issues with someone, as a consenting adult, to have a circumcision performed.
I can only imagine how much different my life would have been if they had left me alone and intact. I would like to be more involved with the federal MGM Bill, and am willing to share my story with whomever needs to hear it in order to convince them that this law needs to be enacted.
January 8, 2006
When I was younger I used to wish I'd been born in America. Then I learned about circumcision.
I'm glad I was born in Scotland now.
Glasgow, Scotland, UK
December 3, 2005
Tears came to my eyes as I just found your website. I would give ANYTHING if I would have had this information on November 15, 1976. Because on that day a young, uninformed mother gave her son to be circumcised. I will never, as long as I live, forget the horror of pulling that diaper back and seeing what had been done to my innocent baby. 29 years later I still am sickened at the thought that, as a grandmother, I could not convince my son not to have his son cut last year.
I still think about that day, about how my innocent baby suffered because of my own ignorance. It is a horrible, disfiguring act, fueled purely by money for the medical community, and by ignorance of parents who just don't get it.
July 15, 2005
My main motivation for supporting this bill is that my girlfriend is Jewish and wants to have our children circumcised in the covenant with God. As part of my research, I learned about the brutality of this practice and decided that I could not justify cutting my son. I pray that Congress has the resolve to pass this bill into law and protect my children from the mutilation Judaism forces on boys.
Albany, New York
February 19, 2005
I am the mother of two teenagers who viewed the PowerPoint presentations in your multimedia page. I viewed the second one first (Safiyah) and was confused about what I should be angry about. Then I ingested the first PowerPoint (The Time is Now). Anger has been building in me, and I am going to send your web address to everyone I know.
My son was born in 1990 and was circumcised. I did not research it. My father impressed upon me that it was wrong, but gave no reasons. My husband was in favor of the circumcision -- he was, so his son should be. I engaged in conversation with my doctor, and he stated that it was easier for boys to 'fit in' if they are like other boys. He did not give any information of risks or what it would be taking away from my son. My doctor told me it would be easier to keep clean and decrease risks of infection that may occur under the folds of skin. Knowledge brings educated choices, with education this mutilation would not have existed in my son's life. I am very angry at the system, the doctors, and the ignorance within our society of this matter.
Columbia City, Indiana
February 13, 2005
I was mutilated as an infant and because of that I want you to know that I am behind your bill to end the gender discrimination in the current genital mutilation law that is now on the books. Certainly it is a terrible thing for any girl to undergo FGM and your amendment does not weaken that in any way, but I fail to understand how it is tolerated when it comes to males.
I suspect that legislators realized that they had a “win-win” situation on their hands in supporting an FGM bill because there is definitely a much smaller base of circumcisers of females in this country than there is of male circumcisers. You can say that you supported a child protection bill, and not lose much support from your constituency. If you leave it at female protection only, you look good to all, and offend very few. I really want a bill that is truly gender neutral.
Flanders, New Jersey
February 3, 2005
I was mutilated as an infant and though I know I'll never get to experience being whole, I want to help ensure that future generations can have what was stolen from me. I want to help so that nobody else has to go through the anguish that I did.
January 28, 2005
Thank you for proposing this much needed bill.
I have suffered all of my 61 years because of a botched infant circumcision. The physical and emotional pain have nearly ruined my life, yet there's been very little that any urologist has been able to do for me.
Genital integrity is everybody's birthright. Stop infant circumcision.
August 17, 2004
Thank you for your letter to The Kansas City Star on 8/17. I am expecting a son this November and have been researching male circumcision. I agree that it is male genital mutilation, but as I called local pediatricians, I was told that they regularly circumcise 99% of male newborns. I am still looking for a pediatric group that does not promote the practice.
Thanks for the information to help me refute the "everybody does it" mentality, or the people who say "he should look like Daddy." Your website is very informative. Good luck on your bill.
March 17, 2004
I applaud your efforts to get a bill into congress to end male circumcision. I wanted to relate my story in hopes of convincing you to propose another bill if this one should not be sponsored. I had my infant son circumcised 2 days ago. No one explained the procedure in detail to me. I was told he would be numbed and it wouldn't be painful. I didn't understand the function of the foreskin entirely and thought that the procedure would be a fast, painless removal of a loose flap of skin for the benefit of his personal hygiene and social acceptance. My doctor knew that I was torn over whether to have this procedure done or not, mainly leaning towards doing it only because my husband thought we should for sanitary reasons. She gave me the pros and cons of doing it and not doing it, but never explained the procedure in detail to me. I chose to go ahead with it because I thought it was best for him. My husband and I never would've chosen to do this had we known how traumatic it would be and how badly our child would suffer.
I watched in horror as they forcibly separated the foreskin from my son's tiny penis and then inserted a large plastic "bell" into the wound area. At first, my son didn't seem to notice, but as the procedure continued he reacted with obvious pain. The doctors maintain that he only felt "pressure" because lidocaine is an effective analgesic. I have had lidocaine myself for various procedures and have frequently had to receive additional shots because it wasn't as effective for me as it should've been. I later pointed this out to a doctor from my pediatrician's office who was trying to convince me that the procedure had not been as painful for my son as I thought. She agreed that it's possible the analgesic wasn't totally effective.
I'm completely outraged at being so misled. A friend of mine who had her son circumcised also agreed that her son experienced pain during the procedure. According to her "he spit his pacifier 3 feet across the room!" Male circumcision is such a controversial topic, that I fear that no one will have the fortitude to step up and sponsor your MGM bill. Should this happen, I would like to urge you to submit a bill requiring doctors to provide more detailed literature, videos and verbal information to parents considering circumcision. They should give parents accurate information about the function and sensory makeup of the foreskin. Doctors should also be required to advise parents that pain medication may not be 100% effective for all children and there is a chance their son could feel significant pain during the procedure. Lastly, accurate information should be provided to parents about how many other parents are choosing NOT to circumcise their babies, to assure them that their child will not be considered so "different" by society.
I cannot tell you how much I regret having this done to my baby. I sobbed and sobbed as I watched my son suffer, helpless to stop the procedure once it began. I cried that whole day, part of the night, and most of the next day... every time I looked at the sweet, innocent little child who expected me to protect him. I feel like I failed him, failed as a parent to be informed and make the right decision for him. I will regret the rest of my life not picking him up and walking out of that room. I will always regret not spending 5 minutes researching the procedure on the Internet myself since my doctor didn't give me all the facts. I will forever be angry that I was deceived by the medical community and other parents who assured me it was "no big deal."
We may not be able to get congress to ban this procedure, but at least we can make sure parents are given ACCURATE information about MGM before deciding to have this done. I strongly believe if more people knew the truth, they would choose not to do this to their children. I will live every day with the guilt of having made the wrong choice for my son. I have finally gotten to the point where I can look into his eyes without crying. I can now change his diaper without bursting into tears. But I'll never get over this. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the day I had him circumcised was the second worst day of my life. It's superseded only by the day my father and brother died in a car accident. That is honestly how devastating this has been for me. Please help me stop this from happening to other parents and innocent children!!!
and in a follow-up letter on 3/18/2004:
I'm in Anchorage, AK where my pediatrician advised me that approximately 90% of the parents in her practice choose circumcision. I'd also like to add that in addition to my own naivety about the foreskin, my mother (a registered nurse for over 30 years) also was unaware that it would have to be forcibly separated from the penis.
I totally agree with your point that boys should be given the same protection as girls. Had I known the full extent of the procedure I never would have had it done. The first thing I said to my mother after we left the doctor's office (in tears) is that I can't believe it's legal to have this done to a child. I will be forwarding my letter to my congressman as well.
March 17, 2004
I am the mother of 2 circumcised sons. Before the birth of my sons I tried to talk to my husband about the topic. He listened, ignored me, and said "it is getting done and that is the end of it." Both times he won and my sons and I lost. The amount of guilt I feel for not being able to stick up for their rights better is tremendous. My sweet little babies were taken from my warm arms, tied down, and torn apart. They were the "lucky" ones. They had pain relief. It still didn't make me feel any better. My husband said after one long one sided talk "Don't worry, they'll thank me someday". The last words I said to him that day were "Trust me ... They will NEVER thank you for that". I feel it has ruined my once happy relationship with my husband. I carry the guilt around in my heart with the love for my children. After our second son was home he admitted that he didn't even bother to research it like I asked him to. He simply thought I was being ridiculous. He said it is something that was always done and should still be done. After many long talks he finally has admitted that he thinks I was right. Too late for my babies . Mothers know that this is wrong. Ignore your husband’s demands and go with the feeling in your heart. Your sons will thank you someday, your heart will remain unbroken, and the only tears you will shed for your son will be on his first day of kindergarten.
I would like to help out anyway that I can with your cause. I wrote a letter to Rob Andrews asking him to support this bill. I think that more education is needed on this topic. The formula companies have no trouble getting mailing lists of pregnant women. If we could get a hold of mailing lists we could send out educational materials to expectant mothers. If parents knew what circumcision was they would never choose it for their children. Unfortunately since the ob/gyn does the circumcision (clearly out of scope of practice... how can someone who practices female medicine legally remove skin off of a penis! You don't see dentists doing open heart surgery!), there is little or no counseling done before the parents make the decision. More negative advertisements from the media would also help along with billboards along the roadways. I sincerely hope that this bill is only a few years away. If circumcision were illegal baby boys would enjoy the same peaceful beginning as girls.
December 5, 2003
I didn't realize what circumcision had done to me until this year at age 28. When I was six years old I made a horrible discovery that I was missing part of my penis. That someone had cut off part of my penis and scarred me down there. My mother laughed at the idea I could be upset by this and repeated outdated myths of hygiene and tradition. Since then I have been against circumcision of minors. Since then I have suffered in silence alone.
This year for reasons I cannot recall I did a simple Yahoo search on circumcision. What I found continues to dominate my thoughts at all hours. I had been brainwashed to believe it was for my own good, which I never accepted, but I had been duped into believing it was just extra skin. How would I know? I was never allowed to know my own body. From the age of 24 hours someone else NOT ME decided for no valid reason that I should be disfigured, scarred and censored from normal sexual experience for life. How could anyone allow this to continue when even our own U.S. medical societies and organizations admit it is unnecessary for health? What about religion? Who can predict the religion of a child? My freedom of religion was amputated as well.
Every day of my life in the bathroom, in the shower, in the bedroom, abstinent or sexually active I have been/am forced to deal with what was done to me. I cannot escape its effects. Effects I didn't choose and as an adult with any sense would never consent to. Where was my protection then? Where is my justice now?
Below are some letters that we have received from supporters of our bills. Some of the letters have been abbreviated and/or corrected for spelling, and letters without a name or location have been posted anonymously at the request of the writer.
If you would like to tell us about your experience with circumcision, please email us at email@example.com. Unless you are a government official such as a congressperson or state legislator, we won't post your comments or your name and location without receiving your written permission first.