Remembering Paul Mason (March 24, 1953 - August 22, 2018)

SEPTEMBER 2018: Paul Mason, attorney and fervent advocate for children’s rights, passed away from cancer on August 22, in his home country of Australia, with his wife Lyn by his side. He was 65.

We will miss Paul’s intellect, his passion and his unique humor. Thanks to Marilyn Milos, founder of National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (now Genital Autonomy – America) for the following tribute.

Paul Mason, an attorney and the Tasmanian Commissioner for Children, was scheduled to speak at our first Keele University symposium in 2008. I flew to England to help with preparations and, on the day before our symposium, several of us boarded a bus for a London press conference. Paul, Comfort Momoh, who works to end female genital cutting, and I were scheduled to speak. Prior to the press conference, we were each given the gift of a silver replica of our logo, the International Child for Genital Autonomy. The three of us spoke and answered questions. It was a pleasure to hear Paul, an articulate, soft-spoken, and powerful advocate, speak on behalf of infants and children.

With his wife, Lyn Ramsay, their son Orlando, and others, Paul joined us on the bus ride from London back to Keele, where we would spend the next three days immersed in talks about the issue of the right of children to their own bodies. I walked to the back of the bus where people were laughing and obviously having a good time. At the center of the fun were Paul and Lyn, and this is where we began a wonderful friendship.

Paul gave his presentation, "The Goal Posts Don't Move," the following afternoon at our symposium. Then he and Lyn flew to Northern Ireland, where Paul attended an international conference for Commissioners of Children. While there, Paul wore his silver pin and was amazed at how effective it was in catching people's attention. When asked about it, Paul would explain the International Child for Genital Autonomy logo and our work protecting females from non-therapeutic genital cutting, to which people quickly agreed; intersex children from genital cutting and the annihilation of their intersex gender, which people were interested in learning about (and they also agreed the children should not be cut); and, male children from genital cutting, what we euphemistically call circumcision. And, even if a person has momentary cognitive dissonance, it would be difficult to agree to the rights of female and intersex children but not males, which is what makes the pin such an effective teaching tool.

Paul flew back to England and arrived just in time to give his second talk. With his plane stalled on the runway for a late departure, Paul rewrote his second talk to incorporate what he'd learned in Belfast, which was the importance of our logo, and that's what he spoke about.

Not long after our symposium, David Smith founded Genital Autonomy, and Paul went back to Australia to found the Australasian Institute for Genital Autonomy.

Paul spoke at our University of California, Berkeley, symposium in 2010 and joined us for our 25-year celebration of NOCIRC. I loved that, at the end of the day, when lots of people had already gone, Paul and our musicians were still going strong. Paul had taken the microphone and he sang to the enjoyment of us all.

For the past two years, Paul worked on an international team, the International Council for Genital Autonomy, along with Steven Svoboda, Antony Lempert, and James Chegwidden, writing a report for the United Nations on circumcision as a human rights violation.

There are many wonderful Paul stories, the last of which are from our 15th symposium held in May 2018 in San Francisco. Paul spoke – at great length, one might say! – and after the symposium he and Lyn went to Washington to visit relatives. They had planned on visiting me prior to returning home but left the country early because of Paul's failing health. Lyn encouraged Paul to seek medical attention upon their return.

Lyn wrote, telling me that Paul was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 1 and died in her arms August 22nd. On his final day, he gave Lyn instructions about taking care of court cases he had the following week, and told her he wanted to be cremated the flower-print jacket and matching pants he'd worn at our symposium. I cannot think of another man who could or would have worn that suit of flowers and pulled it off so well!

Thanks to Marilyn Milos for sharing her memories and her perspective.