INTACTIVIST OF THE MONTH: Dr. Dean Edell
One of Intact America's greatest strengths is the diverse and supportive intactivist community. Our "Intactivist of the Month" series highlights some of the most ardent opponents of infant and childhood circumcision, whose tireless efforts will ensure a future where all babies are kept intact.
JUNE 2012: Dr. Dean Edell is a physician, self-described hippie, and media personality whose straightforward and refreshing approach to health and lifestyle issues has charmed and educated America for more than three decades.
Dr. Edell's opposition to infant circumcision began after he made the acquaintance of Marilyn Milos, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC). Having already fathered and agreed to the circumcision of his first three sons, Dr. Edell became an intactivist, protecting his next two boys, and thereafter speaking out publicly against the practice.
Dr. Edell studied zoology in college, went to medical school at Cornell University, and trained as an eye surgeon. After a short time in practice, he left medicine to pursue alternative ventures, such as selling antiques, collecting art, and organic farming. In the mid-1970s, Dr. Edell moved to the San Francisco area, where he again gravitated to medicine—but not private practice. In 1979, after a casual introduction made by a friend, powerhouse KGO Radio put "Dr. Dean" on the air to address questions on any health-related topic. For years, his was the top-rated program on San Francisco’s number one station. "Radio is the medium," he says. "It communicates like no other. It has a special nuance that no other media has, and anyone can call and participate." Personable, knowledgeable, and approachable, Dr. Edell achieved national syndication in radio and television. He was the first physician to host his own daily network television show. NBC's Dr. Dean did an entire segment on circumcision in 1991, exposing large audiences to the issue. He has received numerous awards and reached many millions of viewers and listeners each week for more than thirty years.
"Because I don't have a private practice, I have time to do the research required to intelligently instruct listeners as to how and where they might find help to improve their health, and at the same time, alert them to fraudulent products and treatments that may even prove harmful," he says.
Dr. Edell has regularly spoken out on radio and other media against one of those fraudulent "treatments"—infant circumcision. His "Circumcision Decision" video, available on Intact America’s home page, has also been viewed by tens of thousands of people. Says Marilyn Milos, “Dean had the courage to hear the message, to protect his last two sons, and to speak up for all babies. He has saved innumerable babies because he was willing to speak out in their defense. He deserves to be honored.”
In recent years, Dr. Edell has also strongly criticized the campaign to promote circumcision as a measure for preventing the transmission of HIV in Africa. "The idea," he says, "that we Westerners are going to march into Africa... and are going to... perform an operation on millions and millions of men, when we refuse to feed [them], get them useful jobs, and bring them fresh water, is so naïve that it expresses to me the true desperation of the circumcision lobby."
"Dean Edell is one of those people who—plainly and simply—has made the world a better place," says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. "I listened to his radio show for years, and always marveled at how he could demystify medical questions and topics with honesty and common sense. His willingness to speak out against circumcision to a national radio audience certainly played a major part in helping Americans to understand that the intact male body is healthy and natural, and that babies should be left whole, the way nature intended."
"Intact America is carrying forth the work begun by Marilyn Milos in the 1970s—work that I was so fortunate to become aware of," says Dr. Edell. "I like to think that I have played a role in the growing trend of keeping babies intact, and I am truly comforted knowing that the fight for a child’s genital rights is now in such capable hands. I must finally admit to some optimism, fully aware of course that the battle is far from over."
In 2010, Dr. Edell retired—sort of. He still travels, donates his time to public service activities, and produces weekly radio spots. Intact America is proud to count him among our supporters, and we look forward to his continuing contributions to a healthier, happier world.
DR. DEAN EDELL ON CIRCUMCISION