A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son

A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son is another post I came across while catching up on my break. It was posted 11/21/10 on Peachy Keen Birth Services.

“My Little Buster,” the distraught mother writes, “I’m so sorry. How else do I begin this?… As a parent, there will be a million things you will look back on and think ‘Gee… I wish I would have done that differently…’… But how in the hell do I apologize for having part of your genitals amputated for NO MEDICAL REASON? When you were less than 24 hours old!… So for all of the parenting moments I look back upon, wishing I could re-do, having you circumcised is the only one I have utter remorse for. With much, much love, Your Mommy.”

The post struck a cord in me because I too carry this burden, and I echo the sentiments of this mother.

When my son was born in 1998 — in my former life as a closeted, gay, married, mechanical engineer — my ex-wife and I had little discussion on the matter. I am circumcised, my father is circumcised and her father and brother are circumcised. Why wouldn’t we do to our son what was a norm for our family? We didn’t understand the risks. We didn’t understand the permanent damage that we were condoning. We did not understand the history of circumcision in the U.S. nor its root in puritanical aims to deter masturbation. We were simply uninformed and did not understand the gravity of our decision to circumcise our son.

Now it is too late. We stole that choice from him and his body is permanently altered. I have apologized to him. The tears ran down my cheeks. He has forgiven me but at his young age he cannot comprehend the consequences of that decision. Do not repeat our mistakes. Leave your sons whole as nature/god intended them to be. Allow them the autonomy over their bodies that is rightfully theirs alone. Let’s end this barbaric custom of infant genital mutilation!

– James Pate, MD

16 thoughts on “A Public Apology to My Circumcised Son”

  1. I’ve been following the growth of intactivism over the past of couple years and am convinced the reason circumcision lasted for so long was the taboo nature of it. Nobody talked about it. People actually went out of their way to talk around it or minimize it as a “little snip” most likely because the reality was just too harsh to deal with. Finally people are talking about it and seeing it for what it is – violence. Thank you Dr. Pate for speaking out!


    1. NHS Trusts all over the UK are actively engeagd in forming policy on Equal Rights’ for patients and employees. Some trusts are spending large sums of money on these policy exercises whilst some are being thoughtful of the cost and doing a good job in house. Whatever the method of delivery, the public are being consulted (at least in Kent) and there are sympathetic ears toward this vile crime of Male Sexual Mutilation.Sadly, the trusts are to be disbanded and any form of unified policy will be crushed to make way for back door privatisation on our beloved NHS, so act now or forever remain silent.It is obscene that we have policy and law that bangs on about equality when the laws themselves enshrine inequality. For example the Prevention of Female Circumcision Act 1985 , the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 , the Pensions Act’ that seems to allow governments to pay women state pension at age 60 whilst making men (that pay more into the pension fund and die 7 years earlier than women) wait till they are 65 years old to claim pension payments. The latest move is to force men out of their homes on the slightest accusation from their female partner without equal’ consideration of facts.Men suffer discrimination and despite having far less sexually sensitive mucosal tissue, can have their most private sexual organ denuded some 50% or more by forced amputation at the whim of an adult.Those that do this barbaric sexual assault and those that instigate it are among the worst of society deviants and deserve at least the maximum tariff that the 2003 Act conveys, namely 14 years prison. My preference would be to make that hard labour and the 2003 Act made gender neutral as well.Kevin Elks, Dover, Kent. (sexually mutilated at age 8 days)


  2. The only western society that is not English speaking that adopted routine circumcision is South Korea, and presumably it did so out of a desire to imitate American practice. English speaking countries other than the USA gradually gave up routine circ as medical school profs began teaching that the hygiene of the natural penis was trivial, circumcision did not achieve the claimed health outcomes, and could result in a permanently damaged penis or even in infant death. The intense pain of RIC was not denied. Routine circumcision persists in the USA because American medical school profs have failed to lead as they ought. Also, the American understanding of sexuality is deformed by the fact that nearly all who research sex and write about it are either circumcised males or women married to circumcised males. Hence official America is still in denial about the sexual value of the tender moving bits sacrificed to circ. This conspiracy of silence surrounding how the natural penis works has broken down, because free spirited young unmarried American women have bedded both kinds of men, and blogged their impressions.


  3. Dear Dr. Pate,

    We at Doctors Opposing Circumcision completely understand your sorrow at what happened to your son, and we applaud your bravery for saying so this early in your career. Many of our MD members have the same deep regrets –and for exactly the same reasons. My own son (39) has tired of my apologies. But when my grandson, -his son- was born, he left his boy ‘intact’ and said to me, “Dad, genital mutilations in this family end with my generation.” I derive considerable joy from the fact that he is likely correct. Now that his son is intact, and circumcision has been exposed for the Victorian fraud it was, likely no descendant of mine hereafter will ever be mutilated.

    Please consider joining our international organization of MD’s and concerned others who are trying to banish this practice. Write us for our latest newsletter.

    And thanks for your advocacy on behalf of children everywhere.

    John V. Geisheker, J.D., LL.M.
    Executive Director, General Counsel,
    Doctors Opposing Circumcision
    Seattle, Washington


    1. i am a BIG language peorsn when it comes to activism. There is no point to belittling, degrading or intentionally insulting someone not necessary. I wrote a post about this regarding bfing & formula just as heated a debate as circumcision. I think we are all just to quick to judge & to easy to remember compassion. we do better when we know better so advocating for correct information is better then beating down those who made their own informed decision even if we do not agree.great post!


    1. I wrote to the Gender Equality Minister asking her to raise the matetr, of non-consenting infant circumcision of males, in Cabinet and ask questions in the House of Commons. It is her responsibility to ensure that males and females get the same rights to genital integrity.But she ducked the issue, passing my enquiry to the Health Ministry, whereby a Muslim spokesman replied saying that It was not illegal, as it was not specifically prohibited, but it had never been tested in court.As letters to MPs are usually answered by assistants, I feel that I would have to tackle the Minister in person at the Commons, but not at her constituency as I am not registered as an elector there.Surely, there is a barrister, preferablry one with a damaged penis, as mine is, who would be prepared to act on behalf of babies yet unborn.


    1. The ever controversial topic of cuscimcirion, so many people aren’t game enough to touch, so I appluad you for doign so J :)Our son was circumcised, there were several reasons why, the major reason being that we were concerned our son would suffer the same fate as seevral other male members of our family in that health problems would occur later on down the track, foreskin retraction being out biggest concern with my brother having had this issue as a child.The second was personal reasons, my husband was done as an infant, so his input was a huge factor in the decision we made, we’re not religious in any way shape of form, but for the males on both sides of the family it was and is considered “the norm” as back in the 80’s the rates were alot higher than today.The third reason was simply because the procedure itself was painless and even the days following, it wasn’t an issue. We were prepared that there could be some issues, but fortunately everything was fine, now we are put at ease knowing that there shouldn’t be any issues later on down the track for our son.Im a massive fence sitter on this topic, although I strongly believe as parents we make the decisions we believe that are best for our children, and they shouldn’t be questioned by others. So I do get upset when faced with negative comments from others, especially when they throw around terms like “barbaric” like confetti at a wedding. The biggest issue for me here is that cuscimcirion falls into a simialr catagory as abortion. It’s almost taboo to speak about openly without being criticized or judged.So generally people leave it alone, but I thank you J, for being so eloquent in sharing your opinion, as a mum of a circumcised son it is refreshing to hear from someone who is respectful of the choices of others :Dxx


  4. You are wonderful to apologize. I was lucky that I discovered the choice to keep my son intact before he was born, thus I have no regret. I now have four intact children (1 daughter and 3 sons.) My mother-in-law had her five children circumcised because like you, she just thought that’s what you did. To her immense credit, when she learned about circumcision from me, she immediately understood and apologized to her five adult sons. I know this was not easy for her, but she did it anyway. I wish more people were like you both. I hope you use your MD to educate people. We need more doctors to speak out. Too many privately think it’s wrong, but say nothing publicly, waiting with ‘bated breath for their patients to choose right so they can breathe a sigh of relief. It’s time to be proactive.


    1. When Welty asks who are the circumcised here, and then says they are beelivers, I think he misses an important point.Yes, those who have the circumcision of Christ(his crucifixion or spiritual regeneration,whichever) are beelivers. But this should make us ask the same thing of physical circumcision that we ask of physical baptism. If the spiritual circumcision to which physical circumcision points to is only received(for the most part) by active faith, then why is the physical sign given to infants. This would carry over to the sign of baptism since it signifies the same thing(objective death with Christ/or spiritual regeneration). Spiritual baptism in this text refers(for the most part: exception John the B.) to beelivers, so likewise does spiritual circumcision(same thing as spiritual baptism.This shows that both signs point toward the same spiritual reality. So, Baptists do not have a sound argument when they say that physical baptism can only be given to beelivers because it signifies a spiritual reality that is only received by beelivers. This is because the same is the case for circumcision. The Baptist would therefore have to say that circumcision should not have been given to children because it signified a spiritual reality that can only be received by beelivers.But, the fact that physical circumcision was given to children necessarily implies that baptism, which signifies the same spiritual reality, should be given to children, unless we have explicit command to the contrary in the NT.This is why paedobaptists say that we need a command to stop including infants to prove the Baptist position, instead of a direct command to baptize infants to prove paedobaptism. Both sides use arguments from silence.


  5. I salute you James. I am circumcised and never felt grateful to my parents for letting it be done, although for many years not too aggrieved either. My mother died over 20 years ago and I never discussed the issue with her. Shortly before my father died a couple of years ago I had my bombshell moment and discovered the enormity of the damage that had been inflicted on me. I had always assumed that he was circumcised and that I had been for this reason. A few days before he died I discovered to my bewilderment that he was intact. I am now left feeling deep resentment that neither of them explained to me why they let me be circumcised. I reflect however that if I knew what I know now while they were both still alive that our relationship would have been very strained. Maybe it was meant to be this way. My own son was born in 1986 in the UK and is intact. There was no suggestion that he ought to be circumcised by any medic. Although I did not know then what I know now I feel that I would have strongly resisted any moves to inflict it on him in any event. It is sad that we live in a world in which myopia and ignorance are so rife. We are not here for long. It is good that there are growing numbers of people such as you and I to spread the word far and wide, so that many men that are yet to be born can be spared the anguish we have experienced.


  6. Hey there would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!


    1. I use wordpress. I initially had my blog hosted on wordpress.com however some time I moved it over to my personal website using software from wordpress.org. Good luck!


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