What is Genital Autonomy?

Your Whole Body 101 believes that genital autonomy is an inalienable human right, and that every individual has the right to be free from unwanted genital surgeries. We stand for genital integrity, which means that we strive to protect a human's right to their whole body by calling for the abolition of all types of forced genital cutting.

In nearly every case of forced genital cutting – male, female, and intersex – a child or adolescent is forced by an adult to endure an alteration of their body. In each case, there are no medical justifications for the permanent modification of a child's healthy genitals. Even intersex babies born with "ambiguous genitalia" are not unhealthy; they merely do not conform to cultural definitions of male or female genital norms.

What is most important to understand about genital integrity is that all forms of forced genital cutting are variations of abuse based on gender, not genitals. Whether it is a female "circumcised to be fit to marry," a male "circumcised to look like his father," or an intersex child cosmetically "fixed" to meet the expectations of what is "male" or "female," forced genital cutting aims to make nature, and in particular children, fit into a gendered paradigm.

Forced genital cutting marks children, and the adults they become, with shame and indignity because they are made to feel badly about their natural body and the genitals they had at birth. Forced genital cutting destroys an individual’s right to choose what is best for their body on the very "private parts" we hold so dear. Furthermore, routine procedures such as circumcision cause injury and unnecessary medical expenses that contribute to the profits of corporate medicine, not to the well-being of the patient. And did you know? Many male infants’ foreskins are sold to cosmetic companies for use in facial creams!

The primary goals of advocating for genital integrity are protecting our human rights and advocating for those who feel they have been violated. The genital integrity movement may someday enable us as humans to see ourselves better, and to see how certain perceptions of "male" and "female” directly lead to forced genital cutting.