“Every time Sam opens his mouth, I want to take notes!” –Jane Ramseyer Miller, Artistic Director GALA Choruses
Hi, I’m Sam! Want to hire me to speak at your next event? Learn more
As someone who sees connections and possibilities that other folks don’t tend to recognize, I am an optimistic and versatile speaker who brings a fresh perspective to multiple areas of life and able to relate to diverse audiences.
I’ve given keynotes, workshops, and trainings on college campuses, at conferences, and in churches, organizations and businesses all over the world for nearly 20 years. My speaking style is very down to earth, engaging, passionate, and refreshingly honest, and my specialty is helping people to think differently—about themselves, about others, about life.
I have an unusual perspective, as a non-binary transgender person, which people find intriguing, eye-opening, and helpful. My position outside of cultural norms that many people simply take for granted allows me to help people become conscious of aspects of life they’ve been trained to keep unconscious, so that they can make more empowered decisions for themselves.
People find my presentations to be hopeful, inspiring, and uplifting because I offer options they’ve never considered before, my approach to social justice is outside the paradigm of blame and shame where we are really stuck as a society, and I am able to reframe challenges to demonstrate the tremendous gifts and opportunities of adversity, life transitions, and being “different.” I am a popular graduation speaker for this reason.
My presentations can be quite interactive. So much healing happens when we are able to authentically dialogue with others and I specialize in creating welcoming spaces for that kind of sharing to happen. Most importantly, audience members walk away with new tools that can help them live more empowered lives.
Beyond Equality and Inclusion: Reimagining Our Vision of Social Change
Description: We need to reimagine our vision for social change. Our prized ideals of ‘equality’ and ‘inclusion’ require marginalized peoples to become more like mainstream folks and don’t require mainstream folks to change at all, bolstering their dominance in society and perpetually creating new outsider groups. We should instead prioritize marginalized voices and point to need for change within mainstream communities — for their own happiness, in addition to a more just society.
Purpose: This talk is great for campus or organizational diversity leaders as well as for a general audience. It is participatory and utilizes specific examples as well as overarching principles, turning conventional wisdom on its head. It is excellent for those who have been frustrated by contemporary attempts to create more diverse societal institutions.
Trans People are Here to be Teachers and Leaders
Description: This is our time, the time for trans/genderqueer/non-binary folks to step forward and show others the way. We are living in a society that is dying and in desperate need of visionary leadership. It is time for us to fully move beyond medical models that represent us as broken or deficient, societal narratives that pose us as threatening or ridiculous, and political goals of assimilation into a dysfunctional culture to step into our rightful place as path-forgers, shapeshifters, and way-showers. It is time for us to move beyond surviving to build a world in which we can truly thrive, modeling new ways of being and loving and organizing, helping our culture move beyond dualistic and fear-based thinking. In a historical moment generally characterized as extremely discouraging and enraging, Sam explores the gifts of this societal moment and the role of trans people in bringing about needed collective paradigm shifts.
Video clip: https://youtu.be/-SD-pd8f8aQ
Purpose: This talk is great for diversity conferences and events, as well as Pride month events on campus, in churches, in the community. It shifts our societal understanding about the purpose and role of transgender people and demonstrates the important wisdom that trans people have to share with the rest of society.
How Living for the Future Compromises Mental Health and Happiness
Description: When we affirm to ourselves that we will be happy when we reach certain goals, we create lives that are always striving to be happy, but never quite happy, always believing that we’ll get our reward later. Living this way, our everyday experience is filled with stress, anxiety, shame, and depression and to deal with the pressure, exhaustion, and lack of joy, we employ various coping strategies to escape from the pain, which mask but don’t heal our underlying suffering. Come learn some better tools for managing the pressure!
Video clip: https://youtu.be/mXIpY3AGM-c
Purpose: This talk is great for general student life, especially generating dialogue about campus mental health issues. It focuses on student pressures and cultivating healthier strategies for success. It is participatory and student-centered, infused with quotations from students about pressures they face and the dysfunctional coping strategies they utilize to manage the pressure. Though the examples are centered around student lives, the content is relevant to anyone who grew up in American culture and would be excellent for spiritual communities and corporate events as well.
Some of the words of former students about their lives that prompted me to do this talk:
- “I feel like ‘butter scraped over too much bread’.”
- “I remember saying to my friends and family over the summer that ‘if the semester went any longer, I would probably die (most likely from stress).’”
- “I literally cannot remember the last time I was doing a task and not thinking ‘I cannot wait until this is over so that I can do the next task.’”
- “When achieving a goal, I am already working on the next one, and when taking a break from it all, I feel unease. Stress accompanies me almost on a daily basis and events that should be generating joy turn into obligations”.
- “The ways I cope are likely very similar to many other college students. I drink, do drugs, and party heavily, but only Thursday through Sunday. Limiting myself to this makes me feel better about what exactly I am doing.”
- “My personal coping strategies have become living for the weekend. It’s all that gets me through school.”
- “When people ask about hobbies, what do you do for fun? I wonder—does drinking count?”
Other Available Presentations, Workshops, and Trainings:
Intro to Gender and Sexual Diversity
Role of Men in Gender Justice
Decolonizing the Classroom
Transgender Wisdom: What I’ve Learned about Gender and Life from Living in the Grey Areas
What People Are Saying about Sam:
“Sam is a brilliant thinker. His insights are very eye-opening. And hopeful.” Mary Giardino
“Listening to Sam feels like my brain is being licked.” Lisa Brotz
“I find myself quoting you all the time. You are an Audre Lorde for our time.” Rebecca Martinez
“Insightful speaker! Engaging and thought-provoking to listen to and reflect on. Sam has a way of looking at things that is refreshing and inspiring. And empowering.” Jaymi Devans
“Sam’s combination of intuition and intellect, combined with a gift for compassionate and artful communication, is most needed in these times!” Candace Walworth
“Sam’s talk was informative and has given me wonderful new perspective. He truly shows how much we don’t know and understand.” Claudia Diaz
“Sam, there is no one on Earth like you! Thank you for saying yes to coming to speak and turning around a unique, meaningful, apropos, and deeply personal presentation in such a short time. I can’t believe you! THANK YOU!!” Sabrina Sideris
Thanks for considering me for your event. You can take the next steps by checking my availability. Just fill out the brief form and I’ll get back with you soon and see how we may be able to partner together.
Click here for a full list of prior public speaking engagements.