Male Circumcision & Culture Clash: To Cut Or Not To Cut

Even before my partner and I started the process of having a child, there were discussions about whether circumcision made sense for any new born male baby. It’s a topic that’s widely debated still, and there’s more of a growing movement against the practice. It was certainly top of mind for us, before we found out we were going to have a baby girl, which probably saved us a lot of anguish over having to make the decision as to cut or not to cut.

As a mixed race gay couple, we each had differing viewpoints on the matter. I was born in Taiwan, and as is the norm for most non-Jewish/non-Muslim males outside the US, was not circumcised. My partner, an American born and raised white male, is of course circumcised. Not surprisingly, we came down on opposite sides of the debate. For many families this decision comes down to whether the father is circumcised or not. If they are, then typically the male baby will be as well, and if not, then they won’t. It comes down to the “not looking different in the shower” and not having to explain to your child why they’re different. With two male parents with one of each, the discussion wasn’t always so easy.

There is still a general consensus that there is a bit of a medical benefit to circumcision, but there’s not enough of a benefit to convince the American Academy of Pediatrics to recommend the practice. For Asian Americans the rate of circumcision is among the lowest of any racial group, sharing the low spot with Hispanics in the United States.

Growing up, I was the different one in my high school, which also meant I avoided the showers and locker room of the gym like the plague. That also meant my partner and I were philosophically on opposite sides of the debate on circumcision. If we were going to have a male child, I’d prefer one that didn’t have to feel or be different from the majority in the U.S., since having gay dads was going to be plenty of difference already. My partner thought it was a crime against nature to circumcise a male baby, a belief that seems pretty common in the white gay community.

In the end I probably would have agreed to avoid circumcision if we had to make that decision, as I wasn’t as adamant on the issue as my partner happens to be. But as I mentioned earlier, we got lucky and we have a beautiful daughter, which I’m sure will bring up its own challenges in the future.

As an Asian American parent, if you’re planning on having kids, or if you have kids already, did you make your choice based on “fitting in”, “following medical advice” or some completely different reason?

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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