Nina Packebush: Organize for Queer Youth and Teen Moms

“Our bodies are our own, our futures are ours to mold.” Allison Crews

Alli Crews

Alli Crews

 

It’s the morning of November 9th, 2016 and I’m sitting exhausted and bleary-eyed at my kitchen table gulping down coffee and breathing through my bubbling anxiety as I scan Facebook for the latest news. My youngest daughter joins me at the table and announces that she’s getting an IUD. Again. In August she had the Mirena removed and the ParaGard inserted. In October she had the ParaGard removed. Her body fights the IUD as if it’s an invasive species hell-bent on destroying her, but now here she was announcing she was getting another.

Much earlier that morning—the middle of the night really—my kid found out that her right to choose might very well be in jeopardy and all she could think to do was to prevent a pregnancy by any means necessary, even if that meant inserting something into her uterus that would cause a war to erupt in her body.

She is scared.

Later that morning I read that texts and calls to suicide prevention and crisis lines for LGBTQI youth more than doubled on November 8th and 9th. Trans Lifeline had 426 calls on November 8th, more than double what they had ever seen before.

Queer kids are scared.

In the afternoon I read that Newt Gingrich is a top choice for this new administration’s cabinet. Newt Gingrich once called for the children of teenage mothers to be put into orphanages because he felt they were better off in an orphanage than with their teenage mothers. I was a teenage mother. My oldest daughter was a teenage mother.

We are scared.

I thought about Roe v Wade. I don’t think it will be completely overturned, but I do think abortion will be deeply restricted, especially in red states where it’s already difficult for women to get access to reproductive health. I thought about the women in those state who may have to travel hours just to find a clinic—if they’re lucky— and the financial and emotional ramifications of that. I thought about the pharmacists who will refuse to provide Plan B.

I thought about the teen mamas who will once again be shamed and blamed with Newt back in the limelight.

I thought about the queer youth living in red states and how their lives just got even more restricted and dangerous.

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And then I thought about my friend, Allison Crews. Alli was a vocal advocate for teen mamas and queer youth. All was a fierce warrior for choice. Allison Crews died in 2005 at the age of 23. I thought about how she used to come up with ideas and just explode into action. I remembered how in 2004, after the March for Choice, she came up with a an idea to help fund abortions for women who didn’t have the financial means to pay for their own abortions and then she made it happen. This abortion fund, known as Counter Crisis and later, after Alli died, The Allison Fund, not only funded abortions, but also helped women find places to stay if they had to travel for their procedure and bought them meals.

I thought about Alli’s passionate devotion to empowering teen mamas.

I thought about Alli’s passionate devotion to queer youth.

I thought about what Alli would do if she were alive today on November 9th, 2016. I know what she would do, she would act. She wouldn’t worry about getting shit organized properly. She wouldn’t worry about things being perfect or official. She wouldn’t waste a bunch of time trying to come up with a plan. She wouldn’t worry about who was on board. She would simply put shit in motion and figure it out as she went along, so let’s put shit in motion and figure it out as we go.

originalLet’s organize across the country. You and me. Let’s tell our own teen mama and queer stories. And let’s organize for choice. Let’s tell our abortion stories. Let’s start raising cash to buy Plan B in blue states and send it to women in red states who may not be able to get it any longer. Let’s offer up our homes to women who need to travel to have an abortion. Let’s offer to drive them, watch their kids, buy them lunch. Let’s open our homes to the scared queer kid who needs an adult mentor or a safe place to spend the night. Or let’s give out our phone number to that queer kid and be the ear that they need in the middle of the night. Let’s offer a day of baby sitting to the teen mom who needs to go spend the day at the Welfare office so she can get her kid milk and medical insurance. Let’s make sure she knows she isn’t garbage and she will get through this.

I say all this and you all are saying YES, but then we know what happens…nothing. We’re all busy and none of us know just exactly how to make it happen. But this time we need to make it happen. This time, right now, it’s an emergency. We have about 60 days to get shit in order before the real horror sets in. I’m making a Facebook page for organizing. I have a blog that needs writers. I’ll build a message board for queer youth and teen parents if you all want to help out.

It’s time. Let’s make my friend Alli proud.

Meet me over at my blog: wehaveraisedpresidents.org. Friend me on Facebook to be added to the Facebook organizing group. Let’s put this shit in motion and figure it out as we go. We have 70 days. Go!

 

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Nina Packebush is a writer living in Washington state. Her first YA novel, Girls Like Me, will be published in November 2017 by Bink Books. 

 

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