My Trip to Maastricht

Those of you who know me well know I was, at one point, nervous about the events of the past few days.

I was nervous about preparing a speech in the short time I had available after I was asked to give a TEDx talk. I was nervous about my first visit to Europe. I was nervous about being on a plane for eight hours at a time.

I was nervous about revealing my memoir a bit earlier than planned. I was nervous about how my message would be received.

But I consciously decided, a few weeks before the event, to let the universe “have its way with me.” These were the words that came into my mind. In the lingo of a Wiccan group that has unexpectedly become close to my heart, I made this my intention.

And I’m glad I did that, because the universe was incredibly kind to me.

I’d like to thank everyone who came up to me after my talk and expressed your appreciation of what I had to say. I’d like to thank the amazing people of the Netherlands, who showed me again and again their empathy, their intelligence, their tolerance, their insight, their incredible laid-back attitude, their grace.

I’d like to thank the TEDx organizers who wined and dined me and made me feel like a rock star. And the fellow speakers, all incredible people with much to offer the world, who nonetheless took the time to listen to and support one another.  I can’t wait to watch their talks again, having seen most of them from backstage.

I’d like to thank the lovely lesbian couple who owned the beautiful airbnb where I stayed, advised me on how to enjoy Amsterdam, and kept me up late, plying me with Jameson and engaging me in philosophical discussions long into the pleasantly temperate night.

To be quite frank, things would have gone very differently if I’d given this talk in the US.

I’ve been tempted to go expat for some time now, and this experience only strengthened that desire. Not a fan of number 45. Not a fan of America’s aggression, its single-mindedness, its affinity for shoving people into tiny boxes, especially after seeing what it looks like from the well-adjusted other side.

And damn I had a fantastic time.

My TEDx Maastricht Talk: The Complexity of the Transgender Experience

ThraceWhen she is asked to describe herself, it immediately becomes clear that Shannon Thrace is a big lover of life, though life hasn’t always been easy on her. She’s a grad student, writer, IT professional and devotee of farm-to-table restaurants, summer festivals, all-night conversations and formidable philosophy texts. She’s passionate about unplugging, getting outside and seeing the world.

Shannon’s talk is about a tumultuous eighteen months of her life with a transgender spouse. “I speak about this topic because it’s much more complex than the Pollyanna media would have you believe”, Shannon explains. “Compassion requires us to let down our defenses and get frank about this issue, from acknowledging the existential pain of many of these individuals to considering options beyond early and aggressive medical intervention.”

Shannon would like to see a retraction of the relentless pace of capitalism, productivity and technology. “I’d like a world in which people have the freedom to log off, slow down, and enjoy food, friends and conversation”, she says. If she could have any kind of superpower, what would it be? “My favorite superpower would be the ability to read and understand books by lying my hands upon them, so that I could plow through the wealth of information in the world that interests me.”

Ninih Vang

Full story here.