INTACTIVISTS OF THE MONTH: Dr. Adrienne Carmack & Tim Hammond

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.

MAY 2017: Our Intactivists of the Month for May are Dr. Adrienne Carmack & Tim Hammond.

This month, we are honoring two individuals whose recent article in the International Journal of Human Rights puts yet another nail in the coffin of the argument that male circumcision causes no harm.

Adrienne Carmack, MD, is a board-certified urologist who practices near Austin, Texas. The mother of a son and two daughters, Adrienne — like so many Americans — grew up with little awareness about circumcision. When she was in medical school, she saw a bumper sticker with a picture of a baby and the caption, "Circumcision. The Unkindest Cut of Them All." As she recounts in her book Reclaiming My Birth Rights, she laughed at the thought that "someone would feel this was an important cause."

But later, during her training as a urologist, Dr. Carmack decided to get educated. As she began researching the risks and benefits of the procedure, she says, "I was surprised to see that circumcision just did not make sense." The risks were too substantial, and "[t]he only true reason for [routine infant] circumcision is conformity."

Now, as a practicing urologist, every day Dr. Carmack sees the damage caused by circumcision. That's why she joined with Tim Hammond, to write a comprehensive article on circumcision harm, published in the March 2017 issue of the International Journal of Human Rights.

Tim is a long-time human rights activist, founder of the National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NOHARMM). In 1995, he co-produced with Lawrence Dillon a documentary Whose Body, Whose Rights, which examines the ethics and human rights issues related to infant male circumcision. Among many other activist causes, Tim also co-founded the Canadian organization Children's Health and Human Rights Partnership.

The IJHR article co-authored by Hammond and Carmack is based on a self-selecting online survey carried out to "qualitatively explore experiences of only those who already consider themselves harmed by involuntary non-therapeutic circumcision." The survey consisted of 44 questions designed to assess the physical, sexual, emotional, and self-esteem issues related to non-therapeutic circumcision, and also asked about relationships, compensatory behaviors, assistance-seeking, and past disclosures. Findings were compared and contrasted with those in relevant literature, especially those in a 2015 paper by Bossio, "Examining Sexual Correlates of Neonatal Circumcision." (PhD diss., Queen’s University, Canada, 2015)

Hammond and Carmack conclude that, for the respondents to the survey, infant circumcision resulted in "specific negative outcomes and an unhealthy physical, sexual and emotional future that does not contribute to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health advocated by numerous international human rights treaties." Their findings, they further say, "are likely to have broader implications for men's health than is currently understood by mainstream medicine, human rights advocates and the general public, and can assist health care and human rights professionals in understanding and offering solutions to the difficulties facing men who identify as circumcision sufferers."

When told that they would be honored as Intactivists of the Month, both Tim and Adrienne praised Intact America for its role in spreading the truth.

"I've long recognized," said Tim," that as the movement to protect children's genital autonomy grows, it will need well-funded, professionally run organizations with highly skilled and effectively networked staff to bring our message to the halls of power and the society at large. Intact America is an important element in a multi-pronged approach to changing the hearts and minds of Americans about children's human right to bodily integrity and genital autonomy."

"When I first heard about Intact America," Dr. Carmack said, "it made me very happy to know there was a group working for this issue in a respectful and professional manner. I was frustrated because, having studied circumcision risks, the foreskin, and medical ethics, I knew newborn circumcision was a carry-over from old traditions and that its ongoing practice was not in keeping with other medical traditions that have been thrown out after careful re-analysis… Despite clear ethical guidelines by groups such as the AAP and significant medical knowledge about the foreskin and its risks, newborn circumcision is still considered a viable and uncontested cultural and medical option by many. Parents need to know the facts. The people at IA know these facts and do a wonderful job of bringing them to the public. "

As Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America, summarized, "This recent contribution by Tim Hammond and Adrienne Carmack cannot be overstated. Through their work, the voices of men so long silent are being heard, and both the objective and subjective facts of circumcision damage are irrefutably demonstrated."

Visit our Intactivist of the Month Archive page to read about previous intactivists we've highlighted.