Chelsea Gonzalez: 'I Envision a Future in Which All Young Folks Understand Their Rights to Bodily Autonomy and Integrity'

If/When/How’s Quick Question series highlights the work of our Reproductive Justice Fellows, introducing our network to the incredible advocates who are dedicating their lives to the movement to lawyer for reproductive justice. We’re so proud of the work they’re doing at placement organizations across the country to ensure that everyone has the ability to safely decide if, when, and how to create and sustain their families, and to actualize sexual and reproductive wellbeing on their own terms. But we can’t support them without you: Please donate $10 to help us give aspiring and new lawyers the resources they need to thrive. And if you can’t give — share!

Chelsea Gonzalez

Chelsea Gonzalez graduated from the University at Buffalo with a joint JD/MSW in 2020. She is a Bronx native who first began tackling reproductive justice issues while in high school as a TORCH peer leader, facilitating inclusive and medically accurate sexual health workshops to youth throughout NYC. In 2016 she returned to TORCH to train and empower the peer leaders participating in the program throughout the summer. During law school, Chelsea served as a 2017 Buffalo Human Rights Fellow with a position at the ACLU of Puerto Rico, where she primarily worked on their prison project advocating for the rights of those incarcerated on the island. She further interned at a variety of local legal and community based organizations such as: Legal Assistance of Western New York, VOICE Buffalo, and Partnership for the Public Good. Additionally, Chelsea remained active on campus, serving as an Associate and Submissions Editor for the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, as Co-President of OUTLaw, and as a competitor and coach for the UB Thurgood Marshall Moot Court team. She was also a founding member and Co-President of the Intersectional Activism Alliance and supported underrepresented youth pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math), allied health, and licensed professions as a Graduate Assistant for UB CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program). Most recently, Chelsea worked as the Western New York Regional Organizer for the National Institute for Reproductive Health, where she utilized digital organizing tools to help advance abortion access for those with the ability to become pregnant and garner support for comprehensive sexuality education within New York State.

Chelsea attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY as an undergraduate, majoring in Humanities and Justice with a Latin American/Latinx Studies minor in Honors. She was a Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program Scholar, as well as a CUNY BMI Stellar Scholar. 

Chelsea will spend her RJ Fellowship year at Advocates for Youth in Washington, D.C.

If/When/How: Who are you and where are you from?

Chelsea Gonzalez: My full name is Chelsea Infinity Gonzalez and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I was born and raised in the Boogie Down Bronx, but attended graduate school in Buffalo, NY, where I have lived for the past five years.

If/When/How: Where are you going? (You can treat this question literally or existentially).

CG: I am hopefully headed towards real and radical transformation. Time and time again, reform has proven to be ineffective, and I would love to have a career that allows me to contribute to ending the discrimination and breaking the stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health.

If/When/How: Who or what drew you to reproductive justice work?

CG: In my native Bronx community, I bore witness to the hardships encountered by my young, single mother and other poor Black and Brown women, who lacked proper access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion and contraception. As a result, I developed a heightened awareness of the ways in which structural racism and oppression shape reproductive choices and perpetuate systemic inequality in communities of color. Throughout high school, I had an opportunity to contribute to changing this reality as a peer leader with the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s TORCH Program. I facilitated workshops to adolescents about topics such as reproductive health and rights, healthy relationships, and sexuality in an effort to provide them with knowledge and empower them to make informed decisions. This experience affirmed my passion for both RJ work and youth work. I envision a future in which all young folks understand their rights to bodily autonomy and integrity, and actually have access to accurate and inclusive sexuality education, as well as confidential and affordable sexual and reproductive health services.

If/When/How: When you are not lawyering, what do you get up to?

CG: When I’m not lawyering, I enjoy spending time with my two cats (Cobie and Cairo). I am very much a homebody and avid Netflix binger, though I also appreciate nature and love to travel. I am at my happiest while making a home-cooked meal and simultaneously dancing to a Salsa or Afrobeats playlist.

If you’re as excited as we are to see Chelsea succeed, donate $10 to help If/When/How support new lawyers like her.