INTACTIVIST OF THE MONTH: Adam Zeldis
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.
SEPTEMBER 2013: Intact America is delighted to honor Adam Zeldis, whose enthusiasm has brought new energy to the intactivist movement. Between his dedication to helping the Intact America staff, his technical skills, and his incredible energy, Adam has become truly indispensable!
Born in New Jersey and based now in New York City, Adam, 30, became aware of circumcision after hearing Howard Stern rant about it on the radio 15 years ago.
Almost immediately, Adam began talking about circumcision with his high school classmates and teachers. He convinced his health teacher to give a lecture on the subject, and he wrote an English paper about the word circumcision. “The word is a euphemism for what we’re actually doing to the penis,” he explains. “It’s a mutilation.” While a student at George Washington University, he founded a chapter of Students for Genital Integrity, and attended a NOCIRC symposium in 2002.
By day, Adam works full-time as a web developer for a video technology firm and runs his own small business, Veriwalk (an app for dog owners like himself, to keep track of petsitters and dogwalkers). ). But his passion is intactivism, and you’ll often find him at demonstrations, baby fairs, and public protests against forced circumcision. Earlier this year, Adam was one of a handful of rocking intactivists who attended a Bill Clinton lecture and interrupted it to call attention to the Clinton Foundation’s efforts to push circumcision in Africa under false premises.
There have been moments when it’s been difficult, however. “This is brutal work,” he explains in an interview with intactivist videographer James Loewen (filmed at the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics demonstration in New Orleans and included at the bottom of this page). “You have to contend with people who feel strongly about the subject for religious or cultural reasons, and you’re telling people that something that was done to them or their children is wrong. Then you have to deal with a cognitive dissonance.”
In fact, Adam credits that cognitive dissonance with the perpetuation of circumcision as a cultural phenomenon. “It happens when you’re presented with information that may be contrary to your beliefs, or about a decision you have made in the past or something that was forced upon you. And circumcision is all of that. You can’t do anything about it, a lot of the time you become defensive, or you laugh at it, or you try and belittle it or trivialize it. This is the psychology that allows circumcision to continue to exist.”
Adam also talks about his experience broaching the issue with his parents. “It took me 3-4 years to bring it up. They didn’t do it for religious reasons. It was for cosmetics and to assimilate with American culture and society.” He’s grateful that they were receptive to him, and while he harbors them no ill will, he’s still angry about what was done to him, “This is a scourge in our society.”
Over the last year, Adam has become an honorary member of the Intact America team, lending his technical expertise to many of our web-based projects and campaigns. “I have nothing but reverence for people who have helped make Intact America a reality,” he says. “For a long time now, the intactivist movement has been searching for a strong, professional presence that could make our message heard in the media, amongst human rights activists, and the general public. With Intact America and the leadership of Georganne Chapin, we have found that presence. I have no doubt that when genital cutting ends, Intact America and NOCIRC will be the organizations credited with leading the charge.”
“Adam’s the greatest,” said Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s Executive Director. "He’s right up there with the rest of the IA team—smart, fast, and a pleasure to work with!”
Visit our Intactivist of the Month Archive page to read about previous intactivists we've highlighted.