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On Saturday, October 1, Luke Artanis and Jane Salkeld represented the Rose City Intactivists in a suicide prevention and risk awareness event, the Walk Out of Darkness  at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. We were there to honor the memory  and mission of beloved Bay Area Intactivist Jonathon Conte, who passed in May 2016.

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All quotations in this article come from DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.org, an excellent resource for medical professionals and parents seeking accurate medical information and referral to knowledgeable doctors. Rose City Intactivists share D.O.C.’s vision of “a world where children are protected from unnecessary genital reduction surgeries and are free to develop as nature intended.”

Based on growing reports from circumcised men, other potential long-term psychological effects of circumcision include excessive or inappropriate anger, shame, shyness, fear, powerlessness, distrust, low self-esteem, and decreased ability for emotional intimacy.[14,17,13-25] Because circumcision is generally performed shortly after birth, it is a perinatal trauma, and several authors report that perinatal trauma may contribute to self-destructive behavior in adult life.[26-30] Lack of awareness and understanding of circumcision, emotional repression, fear of disclosure, and nonverbal expression explain why we do not hear from more circumcised men about how they truly feel.[17,31,32]

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a normal response to an event in which a person’s physical integrity has been threatened or violated. Forced genital cutting is a direct experience of sexual violence, so it fulfills the criteria as a psychogenic cause for PTSD.[11] Taddio et al. studied the behavior of babies at first vaccination. They found that circumcised boys have a much stronger reaction to the pain of vaccination than do girls and intact (non-circumcised) boys, which the authors suggested is an “infant analogue” of PTSD.[12] Other authors also have reported PTSD in circumcised males.[13] Rhinehart reported on four cases of PTSD connected with neonatal circumcision in middle-aged men that he encountered in his psychiatric practice.[14] Ramos and Boyle reported PTSD in 70 percent of Filipino boys who experienced ritual circumcision and 51 percent of Filipino boys who experienced medical circumcision.[15]

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A critical need for greater awareness continues to exist in the United States on this shrouded issue. Circumcision, in reality, is the rape and pillage of the penis. The foreskin of both male and female is functionally significant and extremely sensitive tissue.

Americans understand how horrific the amputation of the foreskin is for girls, and thus American girls are indisputably protected by U.S. law from the damage and permanent trauma of forced circumcision. But, as yet, there still exists an engineered blind spot that has for too long obstructed American recognition of the horror committed against our sons.

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Based on personal experience as well as valid medical research, we feel strongly called to advocate for equal protections for ALL children who might otherwise be made to endure this traumatic, needless, life-altering surgery.  Genital cutting is extremely painful and is unquestionably an adverse childhood event. Only fully informed adults have a right to make such a choice concerning their own bodies and any coercion to have this profit-driven practice constitutes a severe human rights violation that has demonstrable evidence of being a significant risk factor for suicide in later life.

The efforts  of our fledgling organization, the Rose City Intactivists of beautiful Portland, Oregon, will continue to be directed to help raise awareness of the risks and complications of what has been billed as a “routine” surgery — particularly in relation to suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and actual loss of life from associated severe depression.

-Jane