Marilyn Milos: Intactivist, Educator, Pioneer

The intactivist movement as it is today, with tens of thousands of people across the country standing up for the rights of newborn children, would not exist without the vision, passion, and dedication of its "founding mother," Marilyn Milos, RN.

Marilyn MilosAs a young nurse, Marilyn Milos witnessed a circumcision and heard screams that will haunt her to her grave. After hearing the doctor say of that "minor" surgery, "There is no medical reason for doing this," Marilyn set out to tell parents and others the truth about circumcision.

For many, the information was welcome. For others, it was not. And like other messengers bearing news people don't wish to hear, Marilyn was fired from her nursing job. But a cause was born, and she has pursued it ever since. Doggedly. Asked recently what she did in her spare time, Marilyn thought about it and said she had been a marathon runner. Perfect answer, because this, too, is a long-distance race.

The organization she founded is the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), which has at its center the word "information." Since the advent of real medical science, the rite of circumcision has been justified under successive waves of pseudoscience. Marilyn has taken them on, one wave at a time, with truthful information.

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)Beneath the evidence-based activism lies something deeply personal. She is continually asked, "Why you? Why this?" There is an answer. She will tell you that she was abused as a child in the 1940s, when abuse could only be borne quietly. "That scream in the hospital was the sound I couldn't make for myself."

As intactivists gather in Berkeley, CA this week for the 11th International Symposium on Circumcision, Sexual Mutilation, and Genital Integrity (download extracts here), we celebrate Marilyn's work. We are also celebrating the alliance between NOCIRC and Intact America, a relationship that will strengthen our movement and, ultimately, end the forced circumcision of babies and children in this country.

"Marilyn is that rare person whose reaction to a single event can open up a moral universe," says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. "That circumcision she witnessed, and Marilyn's response, set in motion a new human rights movement, one that has subjected its founder to mockery, abuse, and discrimination. The circumcision rate in the United States is at an all-time low since the 1960s, and it continues to fall. Intact America is proud to have Marilyn as one of its founding members, and we honor her for her past and present work, for the future victory to which she may certainly lay claim, and for the MILLIONS of babies spared the painful loss of their normal sexual anatomy."