A man’s been arrested for allegedly performing castrations on guys. The media call it the handiwork of a ‘sinister gay cult’ – but is that fair to the world of Nullo men?
When Scoty was nine years old, he knew there was something wrong with his cock. Or more specifically, the fact he had one at all. He was very much a boy, firmly masculine, with no sense of being trapped in the wrong body or the wrong gender.
But as he grew older, he couldn’t shake the anxiety he felt about the cock and balls attached to his body. So last year he did something about it, and had them surgically removed.
Scoty is one of a group of men who refer to themselves as Nullos – those who have been genitally nullified. They’re not transgender – many of them still strongly identify as masculine men, they just don’t want to have a dick and testicles.
I would feel such anxiety about my genitalia that… I knew something was just not right.Scoty
It’s a close-knit community, often driven underground by the social stigma towards them. But more and more guys are getting the procedure done.
Around the world, men are being arrested for performing these procedures on other men outside of a typical medical environment. It’s prompted several members of the Nullo community to speak out about their experiences to help others understand why they feel the way they do.
“I would feel such anxiety about my genitalia that… I knew something was just not right,” Scoty says.
“I knew I was gay, and I liked boys, but I didn’t know what any of that really meant. I looked down and realised… ‘that shouldn’t be there’. I was still a guy, wasn’t a girl, didn’t need a vagina.
“It was a very confusing time so later on growing up, when the internet happened, I had more information about who I was. I realised there were other people out there just like me, but still the likelihood of ever having surgery to fix it was just impossible and unheard of.”
But the opportunity eventually arose for Scoty, when the disruption of COVID brought a clarity to his desires for a different body.
Scoty consulted medical professionals and had the procedure carried out in hospital.
“COVID gave me time to really think about my life and how I wanted to be presented,” he says.
“People were dying by the thousands and I really felt this strong need to correct things.”
The Nullo community has found itself under media scrutiny in recent months after a string of high-profile cases and investigations by police forces around the world.
In December, a man was jailed in Germany for performing castrations on men in his home. And in the same month, a group of men were arrested in London for allegedly carrying out similar procedures.
These cases prompted widespread news coverage of what several outlets referred to as a ‘sinister gay cult’ – a label that Nullos reject.
“We’re definitely not a cult,” says Scoty. “I think we’re all just trying to live our life and live our truth. Of course the media is gonna take it and spin it around and make something ugly of it. But it’s really about the people.”
Even without media sensationalism, Nullo men say they regularly encounter people who don’t understand them or their motivations for becoming dickless men.
One academic thinks it’s because Nullo men challenge our typical perceptions of what masculinity is.
João Florencio is a senior lecturer at the University of Exeter in the UK. He specialises in the study of gay male sex cultures.
He told Treasure Island Media: “There’s a very long history where men who have their genitals removed would serve different social functions so that practice isn’t new. I think what is new is this particular identification as a certain community… and a very different understanding of this in relation to masculinity.
“They also fall in line with wider questions that we even see today in debates around trans issues… for instance whether one identifying as a man or a woman has anything to do with your genitals. There’s that question of why is my gender defined by my sex?
“This shift away from genitals as the anchor of masculinity I’ve also seen in 1970s porn culture in the kind of bloom in fisting and other kinds of sex practices which were not genitally focused and have been written about by many scholars.
“[It’s] one of the ways in which gay men rethought their bodies in terms of what pleasure and sex meant away from the dominance of the phallus, of the dick, in western culture.”
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A 2014 study looked into the growing world of biological males who sought to destroy or remove their testicles and penis. It thought the number of men who have undergone voluntary castration might be in the region of 10,000 in the United States alone.
The study found most men who had these desires identified as either gay or bisexual, and they usually struggled to find help from qualified surgeons. This means many resort to chemical castrating agents, self-surgery, or the help of so-called ‘cutters’ – people who perform the surgeries outside of a medical setting.
Curiously, the study also found that a large percentage of Nullos and wannabe Nullos had grown up on farms and participated in the castration of animals as children.
What is certain is the number of Nullos and would-be Nullos is growing as the community establishes itself more openly via websites and social media.
For Nullos, a more open community brings hope that with greater awareness comes the opportunity for better recognition by doctors and surgeons the world over.
This story is part of the TIM News series of stories produced by Treasure Island Media.
For over two decades, Treasure Island Media has captured authentic sex between men on film. In many ways, our porn is like journalism – we’re just documenting what comes naturally.
Now we’re launching TIM News, to bring you bullshit-free news and documentaries about the other aspects of gay men’s lives which no other media outlet would dare touch.