Interview on April 4, 2023 with Leeyana, who is from South LA and getting her basic
credits before transferring, outside the Design Technology Center at Mt. San Antonio
College in Walnut.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Leeyana: No, I don’t.
Do you believe there is no God?
Leeyana: I believe there’s something. Not everyone just believes there’s something in
the sky. Not everyone’s lying about it and not everything may be true, so I believe that there’s something, but I’m not sure what it is. I’m not against believing in something. I’m open-minded to everything.
Do you ever talk to people about God?
Leeyana: My mom is getting into religion and I wanted to try it with her because I have
an open mind. I went a few times and I’m not sure if it’s for me, but I’ll still go for her.
Do you believe in any sort of life after death?
Leeyana: I want to believe it. Who doesn’t? I think it has something to do with space, but I really don’t know. It’s nice to believe in something good.
What appeals to you about religion and what repels you?
Leeyana: What appeals to me about religion is that people are more positive about life
because they’re more hopeful that after this life there will be something so they’re
dedicated to that belief and that makes them a better person. The pastor that I go to was a drug addict but once he found God, he became a better person. The downside to it is that if you make bad choices that doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, because
everyone will make bad choices, regardless of who you are, and that doesn’t mean that
you’ll go to hell. A lot of pastors have said that and I don’t agree with that.
How do you define being a good person?
Leeyana: That’s the hardest part for each person. If you’re going into the world with an open mind and being who you want to be, that makes you a good person. Not judging
other people for what they do, what they say.
What do you think about the fact that we celebrate people who effected change by telling people that what they are doing is wrong, like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Cesar Chavez?
Leeyana: I know what you mean and I see how that contradicts what I was saying. Like
Martin Luther King telling people that racism was wrong, yeah, I see.
What do you think about abortion and how do you weigh the arguments that women
should be able to do what they want and versus no one should be allowed to take the life of a human being?
Leeyana: They’re worried about the children. I’ve seen a lot of them say that, but then
they’re not helping the children in this world that are living, like the ones that are in foster care, the ones that are on the street. That’s the issue: they’re alive and they’re in terrible conditions. I know a woman who has gotten abortions and she didn’t feel like it was right to bring a child into this world. I would rather a woman make that choice for herself. I know that woman and she’s a good person.
Do you think abortion ends the life of a human being?
Leeyana: I mean, the human being wasn’t born yet, so…My mom had an abortion after
she gave birth to me and my brother and she just felt that it wasn’t right to give birth to another kid because she wasn’t ready for it financially. She knew that she would struggle, especially since it was from a different dad. Obviously you’re not going to be happy to get an abortion, but if you believe it’s not for you, I would rather a woman not give birth to something that she doesn’t want because you don’t know where they’re going to end up.
Do you think there’s anything that’s wrong for everyone or do you think it’s different for every person?
Leeyana: Murder. Or just being hateful. When people are hateful in their hearts, it’s just disgusting. How can you look at one person and treat them differently because of the way they look?
Biologically, abortion ends the life of a human being, even if he is not yet born – how does that fit with murder being always wrong?
Leeyana: If you really want to deep dive into murder, if you’re defending your life,
obviously I would want to defend my life or to defend another life that I love, stuff like that. So if you say murder is wrong, there are so many instances where it could be not necessarily right but …
You’re saying that killing is not always murder?
If a biological male says that he’s a woman, is he truly a woman?
Leeyana: You have one life. Everyone should be allowed to be who they feel they are.
Not one person is going to wake up one day and say they want to be a man. I’m sure
there’s something in them that they believe they are. Obviously, if you’re not that, you will never understand, but you can at least try to understand and allow those people to be who they want to be.
But is it true to use female pronouns for a biological male?
Leeyana: It doesn’t matter to me if they want to use pronouns. Obviously it’s going to be transgender man, transgender woman – that’s the point. But they still could have the
parts or they could transition, whatever they want to do. I really don’t care what people do as long as they want to be themselves. I can’t imagine what it must feel to not be who you want to be. I’ve seen many documentaries on it. It’s so heartbreaking to see people struggle with their identities. Putting these laws on people to stop them from being who they are is terrible.
Watch short video of Leeyana.