I read of the recent German court ruling forbidding non-therapeutic circumcision for minors with both a glad heart and a sense of foreboding.
Germany Stands Up for Children
Like many people who oppose non-consensual body modification and mutilation, I rejoice whenever the people nominally charged with protecting those who can't defend themselves step up and do so, even when it's controversial. The foreboding came from the knowledge of the outcry to come: the German courts had not added exemptions for religious practices that inflict forced and damaging cosmetic surgery onto children. These practices are found in both Judaic and Muslim traditions.
In the LGBT community we see all too often the harmful consequences of parents forcing their own religious and cultural values on vulnerable young people: Children emotionally and spiritually tortured through so-called "reparative therapy," taught to hate, denied the love of their families and communities, and even murdered, all in the name of making the child(ren) "right" in the eyes of their parents' faith and gods.
The state of California recently advanced a ban on "reparative therapy" for people under the legal age of consent, on the grounds that parents couldn't damage their children's psyches for their own religious ends, and overwhelmingly the LGBT community rejoiced.
Yet when a group of child advocates, who admittedly in my mind did not present their cause well, attempted to ban non-medical circumcision of boys (any alteration of girls genitals in the United States is a felony), many in the LGBT community joined in the outcry against them. However, other forms of cosmetic surgery in the U.S., even ones less dramatic or damaging than the amputation of between 40 and 60 percent of the skin of the genitals, cannot be forced onto children on their parents' whim.
I am well aware that plenty of men who are circumcised do not object to it, just as I know that some forms of female genital mutilation can cause even greater damage than the majority of forms of male genital mutilation. But that's not really the point. A child shouldn't have to pay the price of his or her parents beliefs, religious or otherwise, with their body or soul.
As LGBT people, self determination is hardwired into our cultural DNA. When we come out, we are making a profound statement that our lives, our desires, and our hearts, have deviated in some way from the path that our families envisioned for us. One legacy of that cultural experience should be for us to stand up for the rights of everyone to that same self determination, particularly for those who are too young to stand up for themselves.
(Circumcision photo via Bigstock)