Genital Autonomy America
GA America is an educational and advocacy organization working to promote the rights of all infants and children to bodily integrity and genital autonomy without regard to sex, gender, culture, or religion.
A future that recognizes, respects, and advocates for the birthright of all infants and children—female, intersex, and male—to keep their bodies intact.
- To promote and preserve the health and wellbeing of all infants and children by educating and advocating to protect them from genital cutting and other violations of their sexual characteristics and development.
- To promote the rights of all infants and children to bodily integrity and protection from harmful traditional practices by advancing public and professional awareness of the human rights of children and to encourage others to advocate for those same rights.
We invite you to consider the personal experiences of those who were subjected to these childhood violations. Please join us in advocating for the rights of vulnerable children.
Male Genital Modifications
My name is Jonathon Conte. I am a victim of male genital mutilation and I’m an intactivist.
When I first learned of circumcision, I was 14 or 15 years old. I saw a picture of an intact penis on the Internet. It puzzled me a bit, because I had never seen one before. I didn’t quite understand what I was looking at.
Through that experience, I began to realize that part of my body had been cut away from me. I struggled with that and went through a period of denial. I understood I had undergone a circumcision, but I felt that it hadn’t impacted me. Initially I believed that the effects of it were not significant. But then I began to look into the procedure further. Once I fully understood the ramifications of removing the foreskin, the truth began to take its toll on me.
I suffered some incredibly low periods during the next few years. I struggled with a feeling of incompleteness, both physically and sexually. In addition, I struggled with trying to understand how something like this could have been done to me. Read more…
Intersex Genital Modifications
My name is Hida Viloria, I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex–meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female–I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.
It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term interesex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders–to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing–but it could also be isolating. Read more…
Female Genital Modifications
My name is Soraya Miré and, when I was thirteen years old, the girls on the playground would taunt me, saying I could not play with them—not as long as I walked with three legs. Confused and hurt, I went to my mother, who mysteriously responded that the time had come for me to receive my gift. I soon discovered the horror of the “gift,” female genital mutilation (FGM), whereby a young girl’s healthy genital organs are chopped off not only to make her acceptable to a future husband but also to rein in her “wildness.”
In my book, The Girl with Three Legs, I reveal what it means to grow up in a traditional Somali family, where girls’ and women’s basic human rights are violated on a daily basis. A victim of FGM and an arranged marriage to an abusive cousin, I was also witness to the instability of Somalia’s political landscape: my father was a general for the military dictator Mohamed Sian Barre, and my family moved to the inner circles of Somalia’s elite. In my journey to recover from the violence done to me, I realized FGM is the ultimate abuse, a ritual of mutilation handed down from mother to daughter and protected by the world “culture.” Read more…
The Helsinki Declaration
Whereas it is the fundamental and inherent right of each human being to security of the person without regard to age, sex, gender, ethnicity, or religion as articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
Now we declare the existence of a fundamental right of each human being a Right of Genital Autonomy, that is the right to:
- personal control of their own genital and reproductive organs; and
- protection from medically unnecessary genital modification and other irreversible reproductive interventions. We declare that consistent with the Right of Genital Autonomy the only person who may consent to medically unnecessary genital modification and other irreversible reproductive interventions is:
- in the case of a person who is competent to give free and informed consent, being fully informed about the nature, the risks and benefits of the intervention – the person undergoing the intervention; and
- in the case of an incompetent person including a young child – only a properly constituted public authority or tribunal appointed to balance the human rights and the best interests of the person after considering the views of family members, professionals, and an independent advocate for the person.
We recognize the fundamental right of parents and guardians to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Those rights of parents and guardians are not absolute, they are limited by the same fundamental human rights of others, in particular, their children.
We declare that healthy genital and reproductive organs are natural, normal, functional parts of the human body. Governments and healthcare providers have a duty to educate parents and children about non-invasive hygiene, care of genital and reproductive organs, and to explain their anatomical and physiological development and function.
We encourage and support further research into the adverse consequences of such interventions.