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San Francisco Symposium.

The Kabuki Hotel in San Francisco, located in Japantown, is the only site to actually host two different genital autonomy symposia, though when it hosted the first one in 1991, the hotel had a different name. The site was beautiful and the hosts were very friendly. San Francisco has of course for decades if not generations been a center for non-conformists of all types. It was a nice feeling to "come home" to the site of the 1991 symposium even though my own symposium history started five years later, at the fourth symposium held in 1996 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This was also a bittersweet event as we knew that it was the Fifteenth (imagine that!) and final Symposium to be organized or co-organized by Marilyn Milos of NOCIRC, more recently rebranded Genital Autonomy America.

The symposium took place from May 4-6, 2018, and boasted countless intriguing speakers. I ended up being inspired the morning of my presentation and extensively rewriting a talk that discussed in detail numerous successes we have had in the movement in this decade. In my presentation, titled, "Genital Autonomy and the World," I cited by name many of our leading activists, scholars and organizations.

These symposia always allow me a chance to connect with dear friends and colleagues whom I see all too infrequently. The event proved a smashing success and boasted an impressive attendance of over 125 people.

ARC's active collaborators who were present included Peter Adler, Georganne Chapin, Brian Earp, Hida Viloria, David Llewellyn, Jeff Borg, and John Geisheker. I was able to renew connections with many existing friends and colleagues, such as Ireland's Linda Massie, James Loewen, NOCIRC's Marilyn Milos, Bloodstained Men's Brother K, my and ARC's venerable mentor Tim Hammond, Martin N, Soraya Mire, Dr. George Denniston, Dr. Mark Reiss, Zenas Baer, Paul Mason, Lisa Braver Moss, Rosemary Weiner/Romberg, filmmaker Brendon Marotta, Laurie Evans, Lloyd Schofield, Steve Scott, Mary Conant, Shelton Walden, Anthony Losquadro, Glen Callender, Soraya Mire, Dan Bollinger, Antony Lempert, Ron Low, Pat Brown, Ken Drabik, Holly Redinger/Bauron, James Prescott, Harry Guiremand, Ashley Trueman, and Tom Hennen.

We also had the chance to match faces to people who had previously just been Internet monikers, such as Jen Williams, Dan Rold, Michael Winnel, and Erika Talvitie.

Brian Earp launched the official program with a routinely brilliant overview of fascinating issues raised by activism to protect genital autonomy of all children and opposition based on an asserted right to religious freedom. Brian concluded that if any form of genital cutting is to be ended, all forms must end.

Intersex activist Hida Viloria opened the program on Saturday May 5 with a talk outlining genital autonomy's transformative impact with a captivating blend of Hida's personal and global perspectives. John Geisheker delved into the heretofore neglected topic of subtle yet crucial impacts raised by the classification of circumcision in the International Classification of Diseases.

Peter Adler gave a superlative talk incisively analyzing how male circumcision violates physicians' fiduciary duties to their patients. Soraya Mire provided a heartfelt account of her own personal path and its relationship to her work regarding female genital cutting. ARC Board Member David Llewellyn provided a unique and engaging overview of his twenty-eight years in the trenches doing circumcision litigation. That evening we were treated to a screening of Brendon Marotta's groundbreaking American Circumcision film.

Saturday, May 6 included James Loewen's engaging history of activism followed by Lisa Braver Moss' view of past successes and future paths for those working within the Jewish community to encourage the evolution of views regarding male circumcision. A couple of core activists graced us with their passion and presence--Anthony Losquadro of Intaction and Brother K of Bloodstained Men (also shooting video of the entire event). Antony Lempert provided an admirable overview of his success working with the United Nations and other human rights bodies to advance genital autonomy.

I felt so blessed and honored to be invited at the banquet dinner to sit at the Bloodstained Men board's table! It was a thrill to participate in the far-ranging conversation with everyone present, including Brother K, Hollie Redinger/Bauron, and Erika Talvitie.

After the dinner, longtime activist and founder of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, George Denniston, offered wonderful final remarks at the concluding banquet including reminiscences about Nobel Laureates Albert Einstein and George Wald. Marilyn Milos received the appropriate honors at the final symposium to be organized by GA America. Then we were treated to an unforgettable singing performance by an entertainer who goes by the name Ms. Blu.

A hearty and enthusiastic round of applause for an unforgettable and record-setting edition of this venerable biannual event. Many of us left feeling restored and eager to return to the trenches, reinvigorated by the comradeship and exchanges of ideas that took place in San Francisco.

May 7 was Genital Autonomy Day. A large group gathered at the Ferry Building. I donned the Bloodstained Men suit myself for several hours and engaged with numerous passersby, as usual receiving a wide range of responses for my troubles, though I have to say the Bay Area is usually relatively hip to such things.

And on May 8 my wife and I were blessed to have a group of perhaps thirty activists over to our waterfront home in the Bay Area. We munched and chatted about a wide variety of topics, many of them not related to activism (thank goodness). Paul Mason was in great form; little did we realize this was the last time most of us present would see him. It was such a blast! Thanks to all who graced us with their presence.

Caption: Marilyn Milos speaks at the 15th Genital Autonomy Symposium

Caption: Symposium participants and activists protest at the San Francisco Ferry Building on Genital Autonomy Day, May 7th, 2018

Caption: Audience members applaud enthusiastically following a symposium presentation

Caption: Dean Edell

Caption: George Denniston

Caption: Brian Earp

Caption: Jen Williams and Ashley Trueman

Caption: Anthony Losquadro

Caption: Brother K's live Facebook broadcast captures Marilyn Milos receiveing an award. Marilyn's daughter Kate Edmiston stands nearby.

Caption: Symposium participants queue up to ask questions

Caption: Karen Glennon, Brian Levitt, Hollie Bauron, and Steven Svoboda at the Ferry Building protest

Caption: David Llewellyn

Caption: Entertainer Ms. Blu

Caption: Brendon Marotta

Caption: Steven Svoboda, Brother K, Lisa Braver Moss, and Laurie Evans, at Steven's house following the symposium.

Caption: Friends and colleagues gather at Steven's house following the Genital Autonomy Day protest.
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Title Annotation:Genital Autonomy 2018
Author:Svoboda, Steven
Publication:Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Newsletter
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Mar 22, 2019
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