Where do you go to school? What’s your graduation year and your major?
I’m a biology major and secondary education minor at the University of Texas at El Paso. Currently expecting to graduate in December of 2015.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up en la frontera. I was the first person in my family to have been born in the U.S., and at the time I was born my family lived in Chihuahua and Juarez. My xingona mother actually had to drive herself across the border, in labor, so that I would be born here. When I was a baby part of my family moved to El Paso and because I was a citizen I had the privilege of going back and forth between the two, of traveling between my mother and father. My childhood was very characterized by my xicano identity. To quote Selena, “[I had] to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans at the same time!”
What issues are you passionate about?
For anyone who does advocacy work, I think it’s important to be able to recognize that all the issues society is facing and working to overcome do not exist in a vacuum independent from each other. They all intersect and influence each other in ways that are sometimes not easy to recognize. I’m passionate about being conscious and always trying to better my understanding of the multiple situations of injustice in our society.
Most of the work I have done and currently do is centered around reproductive justice for all people and bodies. Going back to my previous point, reproductive justice intersects with immigration, racism, domestic violence, health care, race, class, and gender; and so in truth, I’m passionate about all of these issues. As a xicano trans man I’m almost expected to immerse myself into LGBTQIA issues but I don’t particularly care much for the mainstream movement as it so often excludes much of its community. Because of that I do try to exist as openly as possible to make small differences in my personal and online relationships and hopefully be a resource to other trans men of color. Recently I’ve been gaining more exposure to social justice in xican@ education. I’ve met some really amazing people here in El Paso and that work is definitely something I’m interested in pursuing further.
When did you start advocating for progressive issues?
Before I had started at UTEP I formed friendships with the students who were all leaders in the progressive organizations on campus. From the very first day I jumped right into helping them with tabling and events. At the time, I don’t think I fully understood the issues I was advocating for or how complex they were (and are). However, I quickly recognized the injustice at play and the necessity for action. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that work and I wanted to do it with those people. Through time and experience I’ve become more comfortable in this work and a lot of who I am today is because of the guidance of great leaders I had the pleasure of working with early on in my time at UTEP.
What brought you to TFN and why do you stay?
Olac, the chapter’s president at the time, invited me to a Darwin-related event that he was having by telling me that there would be a cake with Darwin’s face on it. Naturally, I wanted cake with Darwin’s face on it. I mean, what biology major wouldn’t?
At the time their main objective was to stand up for science and defend evolution in Texas textbooks, which I completely supported. So I continued to show up to events and help out whenever I could. I initially thought the focus of the organization was very narrow. I’ve since been proven very wrong and as time has progressed I’ve come to really appreciate the variety of causes and campaigns that TFN supports. I stay for the opportunity to work for a variety of different causes with some great people. This past summer I also had the privilege to meet the great leaders and members from across the state and I’ve since formed some really great friendships. I’m so excited about growing as activists with all of them and seeing where we go throughout the years.
What do you want to do when you graduate?
I’ve recently been looking into going to grad school. I end up changing school decisions, major decisions, or adding new options into the mix every day though. I’m constantly torn between wanting to leave El Paso and recognizing that my city really needs its great people to stay (me being minimal amounts of great). When I graduate I will be certified to be a science teacher and gaining experience in that would be fantastic. However, I highly doubt anyone would hire my transgender self. (Granted, my teaching ideology is also entirely far too radical for this state.) In an ideal world, I would get hired by an organization that focuses around social justice and do this work full time somewhere in Texas.
Anything else we should know?
It’s not my job to educate you (unless you’re a middle or high school science student), but lord knows I will. I’m all about having intentional conversations about the issues I’m passionate about and helping other people and myself grow.
Also I’m on the board of directors for a new fund for reproductive equity for all persons, called the West Fund and you should like our page and consider making a donation!