They say that you don’t remember the pain of childbirth, just the memory of becoming a parent. I’ve never given birth, and according to the doctor who diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at age 12–I likely never will. And although I’ve never been pregnant, I’ve spent many days in doctors’ offices having ultrasounds and being poked and prodded until exhaustion nearly overtook me. My journey with reproductive health started much earlier than most, and although I didn’t know it at the time that journey would continue into adulthood. 

Bodily autonomy became a very driving principle in my life. By age 15 I had taken on the reputation in my school for being a “social justice warrior” – one that would follow me until I graduated last May. It wasn’t until the summer of 2020 that I would reach my political breaking point. I was tired. Tired of watching Republicans like Donald Trump so flagrantly villainize anyone in their opposition and outright oppress millions of people with discriminatory legislation. So I did what most teenagers do– I turned to social media. I started a political Tik Tok page with the intention of getting Trump out of office and increasing voter turnout amongst Gen-Z. My account gained traction fairly quickly, and by October of 2020, I had 50,000 followers and was averaging hundreds of thousands of views a week. After the 2020 election, I took a break from the platform and my content was very sporadic–until the passage of Senate Bill 8.  I watched as teenagers and college students panicked, and men in our state government proudly announced that there would be no exception for cases of rape or incest. 

I was horrified and angry, but I would not reach true disgust until I found out about Texas Right to Life’s “Pro-Life Whistleblower” website to report individuals who violated the 6-week abortion ban.

I decided I needed to do something, and the only form of power I had was social media, so I called on my followers to flood the website with fake tips and the message spread like wildfire. In a few days, hundreds of thousands of people across the country had heard this sentiment, and the website was inundated with fake tips. Within a week, the tipline had been taken down completely–and to this day it is not available. 

Soon after this, I was asked to speak at the Women’s March for Reproductive Justice on the steps of the Texas State Capitol. What a lot of people don’t know about this decision was that I was essentially disowned by friends and family members alike.  Additionally, I had no way of getting to Austin, no money, and was lost about how I would be able to make it there. 

I am very blessed to work for an incredible organization, Gen-Z for Change, who covered the cost of the trip and to have an amazing friend from high school who agreed to travel with me to and from Austin because I didn’t have a car. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to speak and for that I am eternally grateful. 

We made it to Austin, and soon it was 3 AM, the morning of the march. I sat in a hotel room with my best friends, all of us writing and rewriting until we felt the speech was what it needed to be– a concise and clear condemnation of Greg Abbott and a reminder that you cannot claim to value life while consistently causing death through reckless and politically driven legislation. 

I was nervous. I was just a teenager from a small rural Texas town, and now I was surrounded by organizers and politicians. My speech grew closer and closer by the minute, and I was overcome with doubt as I looked over the crowd of 35,000 people, but as I approached the podium every feeling of doubt suddenly vanished. Knowing I was surrounded by strong individuals who were fighting for the same cause as me gave me a strength I had never felt before. 

After speaking, I wondered if I was where I was supposed to be, and If I was actually making a difference. But then I was approached by a young girl, she couldn’t have been more than 13. I had had several people ask me for a picture and I assumed that maybe that was what she wanted, but she quietly told me that my speech was special to her, and asked me If she could have a hug. I’ll never forget that moment, as it serves as a constant and striking reminder of what the pro-choice movement is about. 

This is a stark reminder of who we are fighting with. All people, of all ages, all genders, and all backgrounds. We are all fighting alongside each other to ensure our rights are protected, and that these fights are not passed on to the next generations.

That being said, the fight is far from over, and we must continue to cling to the moments and memories that drive us in this fight for reproductive justice because those in power are counting on the fact that we will get tired and give up–but I for one, have never been this energized or motivated in my life. So for their sake, I hope they realize that you don’t mess with abortion advocates and you certainly don’t mess with Gen-Z. 

About the Author

Olivia Julianna is a queer Mexican activist who works as the Political Strategist for Gen-Z for Change, a 501C4 Non-profit focused on the mobilization and civic engagement of Gen-Z. She also is known for her TikTok and social media content where she focuses on Texas politics and reproductive healthcare, amassing over 300,000 followers across platforms.