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When 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. Also she’s passionate about unplugging, getting outside and seeing the world.

“My talk is about a tumultuous eighteen months of my life, in which a transgender experience played a big part. It is important for me to get real about this topic. 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.”

In imitation of this situation, 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 adds. If she could have any kind of superpower, what would it be? “My favourite 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