One of the little things that starts to get to you is all the thoughts of what could have been with the baby. In your brain, you know this isn’t the right time. In your heart, you start imagining and dreaming about what could have been.
Cazembe Jackson, 39, Atlanta
I was a junior in college. It was the week before finals, and I was walking home from the library, at probably like one o’clock in the morning. These guys were riding by in a truck and saying that one of their friends had just gotten out of jail and was looking for a good time. I always have been a trans masculine person, so I was dressed in “boy” clothes. The conversation ended up being like, “We need to show you how to be a real woman.” I got raped by four men and kind of left there, outside. They call it corrective rape, when they’re raping you to make you straight.
I found out I was pregnant. I was on financial aid and basically already hustling trying to graduate, and did not want to be pregnant, did not want to have a kid. I was very suicidal and depressed. I stopped school for a little bit and went home. There was a Planned Parenthood around the corner from where I grew up, and I just went there. When I told them the story of what had happened, they set me up with a rape crisis center. That was my first time ever going to therapy. I don’t know what I would do had I not started therapy.
My abortion cost $300. I was a struggling college student. I ended up having to take out a payday loan, which cost way more than $300 and took way longer to pay back.
Women are not the only people who get abortions and who need them. There are also trans men, there are also other nonbinary or gender-nonconforming folk who don’t identify as women who also need access. It’s important that our voices are heard around abortion access.
Michael, 23, Colorado
I was on team abortion pretty much the whole time, and she was trying to think it out. I just made my case. Like, “Hey, we both really can’t afford to have this kid at all.” She was 19. I was 22 at the time.
It was so scary through the whole process. Getting the sonogram and seeing that she was actually pregnant, [I was] more sentimental than I thought I would get about it. Seeing that life that’s there, it doesn’t make it any easier than we thought it was going to be. A lot of old-school tropes really came into play, like, Are we killing this kid?
Diego, 27, Rockland County, NY
I had a serious girlfriend for a time. [Then at one point] she started acting kind of weird, distant. And looking back, I was kind of oblivious to the signs. You know, her breasts were getting bigger and she was getting nauseous and stuff like that. And then one night she just came out and said, “Hey, I had an abortion this week.” And I’m like, “Wait, what?” She thought that I just wouldn’t want to deal with it, which was not the case at all. I was pretty devastated. And I was just thinking, like, “Oh, my God. I lost my child.”
Before that moment, as a Christian, I had always had the standpoint of, like, “Yeah, abortion is wrong.” But it’s not really an issue that I was, like, clamoring for or hardcore on either way. Since then, I’ve become more knowledgeable and active in why I believe abortion is wrong, as far as what the Bible says, the arguments for pro-life and for pro-choice, and how we talk about the issue.
I’m hurt that that baby never had a chance. I’m hurt that my girlfriend thought that was the right decision to make, especially without consulting with me. Because even though America says this is a women’s issue, it’s as much a man’s issue because it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. And that’s something that we’re both going to carry the rest of our lives, the memory of what could have happened. I think about that baby—not like every day or every week—but I think about that baby a lot.
Dashiel Hitzfelder, 38, Durham, North Carolina
I felt really stupid. We know how the birds and the bees work, right? You have unprotected sex, there are consequences, and this is what happened. You put a seatbelt on when you get in a car, and if you don’t and you get in a car wreck and you get your face smashed in, those are the consequences that you live with when something really simple could have prevented it. I was just furious at myself.