Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Lili Gomez

By Lili Gomez, 2018 Next Generation Fellow 

What excites me most about the activism here in Texas is the diversity and intersectionality. This creates a solid foundation for individuals to interact and intersect with each other for the greater good of the people of this state. I’ve learned that no matter how little I do through my activism, I must be making a change for at least one person.

I’ve learned through Next Generation and other aspects of my activism that my work matters because I’m helping people that may not be able to help themselves or need support in getting that help. I’ve also learned that there is an amazing support network out there that will help you when you need it in order to support your work or to support you in general. This is crucial to any activism work that anyone does. I think this is in part why I applied to join NARAL Next Gen, because I knew that I would be adding to my support network and this would help me improve myself in my activism work. In particular, I felt that I was still lacking in the policy aspect of my reproductive justice work, and I knew from friends that Next Gen might help with that.

I support abortion access because everyone deserves to have that choice without any barriers, challenges, or shame and stigma in accessing abortion. I support abortion access because it is a form of health care and all health care should be accessible. We as a society do not get to pick and choose what we deem is health care. Through my work, I hope to be a part of a movement that will change not just laws, but the shame and stigma surrounding abortion and abortion access.

Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Cathryn Torres

By Cathryn Torres, 2018 Next Generation Fellow 

I’m Cathryn Torres and I’m a 22 year old Tejana and sociology student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I’ve been involved with several organizations on and off campus that focus on reproductive rights, justice, and health. Being part of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has always been a dream of mine because I sincerely admire the work that NPCT does to ensure Texans have access to the reproductive health services they need and make sure their reproductive rights aren’t stepped on.

I consider myself an advocate for reproductive rights, health, and justice. I remember entering college with this dream of becoming a college activist because I knew something had to give, and through experiences like what NARAL has provided me, I see myself pursuing activism well into my adult life. I won’t stop until there is true change. This fire within me is ignited by the powerful people that surround me in the RGV. I’ve grown to honor and respect the work the people around me have done and I want to continue to lift the voices of those who need it most.

Joining Next Generation was so exciting! It was so powerful seeing all the work these dynamic young leaders did during past legislative sessions, and their unapologetic grace is so inspiring. It’s so thrilling to be a Next Gen fellow sharing spaces with 35 amazing people with such strong hearts. I’ve been so engaged with the reproductive rights movement and being a fellow has really gotten me to pumped to keep going.

Texas is my home – born and raised. I hold this state so close to me and it breaks my heart that we are forced to live our lives based off bogus, anti-choice rules dictated by white, cis-heterosexual men. Time and time again we often feel overwhelmed and like we can only do so much, but our big Texas virtues keeps us fighting for what is right.

Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Quinn Becker

By Quinn Becker, 2018 Next Generation Fellow 

Eleven years ago in a galaxy far, far away known as Connecticut, I witnessed anti-choice protesters outside an abortion clinic for the first time. I was in high school, and until that day, I didn’t know what an abortion was, let alone why anyone might be protesting it. Something special happened that day, though: there were also pro-choice folks supporting the clinic and patients and making their voices heard. I knew I should get educated on the issue. So, educated I became.

Later, throughout my time in college and beyond, I became heavily involved in pro-choice activism. I was living in Iowa at the time, leading the reproductive justice organization at my university, volunteering my time at the local Planned Parenthood affiliate and lobbying at the Capitol building when politicians would attack reproductive rights. It was a good six years in the Hawkeye state!

In July of 2017, I found myself packing up my bags and moving to a state that is the poster-child for what not to do to people’s reproductive rights. That’s right: I moved to Texas. Real talk: I was scared. Iowa was becoming more hostile as I was leaving, but everyone always talked about Texas being the state you do not want to be like in regards to reproductive rights. And I was choosing to live there.

As I began carving out my place in my new state, I knew I needed to find my people. My pro-choice, abortion access supporting people. And part of that process was finding NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and the Next Generation program. It was important to me that I learned about the reproductive rights issues that are specific to folks here in Texas so that I can be a better activist and advocate. Next Gen has been helpful in learning about the reproductive justice issues that are plaguing Texans.

At the end of the day, abortion saves lives. It is a necessary medical procedure that I am so thankful for. Fighting for abortion access isn’t an easy fight. But, I’m thankful for my NARAL Pro-Choice Texas family here fighting the good fight with me.


Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Eric Shi

By Eric Shi, 2018 Next Generation Fellow 

Growing up, I always thought that I would become a doctor—I wanted to go into medicine in order to benefit those who needed help. As I grew up, I realized that a career in the medical field wasn’t something I necessarily wanted anymore. However, I still carry with me a deep interest in public health. This passion combined with my interest in social justice led me to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas as a Next Generation fellow.

Prior to entering college, I had little to no involvement with anything related to policy and politics and was relatively uneducated when it came to most social issues. In the limited time that I’ve been at Rice University, I’ve had many different experiences that have expanded my understanding of what it means to be civically engaged. When it came to reproductive rights and justice, I aimed to learn more about the scope of issues that they encompass by participating in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Washington, D.C. I was able to meet with many different organizations that are fighting for gender equity and equal access to reproductive healthcare. This experience helped me see that I could combine my interests in health and justice, and it drove me to join NARAL in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the problems in Texas. I think that activism in Texas is extremely crucial because there is a lack of accessibility and protection here that is afforded to people in some other states, and that makes it even more important to fight for change here.

As a cisgender man, I understand the privilege I hold when talking about reproductive justice. To be the best ally possible, I seek out opportunities like Next Generation so that I can continue to learn and grow and be able to educate others. I look forward to using what I’ve learned through Next Gen and teaching others around me about reproductive rights.

Next Generation Fellow Spotlight: Devin Mendelson

By Devin Mendelson, 2018 Next Generation Fellow

My name is Devin Mendelson and I live in San Antonio. Being part of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ Next Generation program has helped me grow as an activist. As a trans man, there are very limited resources when it comes to finding the right place to get HRT, surgeries, and accessible care altogether. Trans men have little visibility in the reproductive rights movement from being denied healthcare coverage, to having high costs for medications, and that is what has drawn me closer to fighting the system for those rights.

What most people don’t know is how expensive top surgery can be—on average a transgender male will spend $7,000 of out of pocket money for this procedure because insurance either does not cover it, or are more expensive to proceed with insurance. I recently found that through my personal insurance, it would cost $9,200 to have surgery. That is with insurance. And that’s on top of monthly payments for medication and potential travel to other cities if your own community doesn’t offer affordable options for care.

I learned about NARAL Pro-Choice Texas through a former supervisor who also participated in Next Gen.  Because of what she told me about the reproductive justice fight within our legislative system, I decided I wanted to join. I want to be a voice for trans men not just in San Antonio, but across Texas, and to spread the word about the real injustice we all face without proper health care coverage for our individual needs.