Sam Dylan Finch is an LGBTQA+ and mental health educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a transgender and bipolar activist, Sam draws from his lived experience to defy the stigmas that surround his identity, as well as teaching others about the challenges that are faced by his communities.
With a passion for stigma-busting and impacting change through personal narratives and storytelling, Sam is quickly becoming a powerful and accessible voice for queer, feminist, and mental health issues.
In addition to writing for numerous feminist magazines, Sam is perhaps best known as the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, a platform which he describes as “queer feminism with a dash of awesome.” LQTU has readers in over 180 countries, and has been used as an educational resource in schools all over the country, both at the high school and collegiate level. The blog is especially known for its frankness when discussing the challenges, triumphs, and complexities of life on the queer and bipolar spectrum.
Sam has been described as “poignant, insightful, sensitive, [and] inspirational,” and queer youth in particular have seen him as a source of “excitement and hope.” Sam’s journey is living proof that being visible as a queer and bipolar person can change lives. With a confident and engaging presence, Sam has reached diverse audiences, acting as both an educator and an inspiration to people around the country.
What is Queer Feminism? – What does it look like to be a queer feminist, and why should the queer community care about feminism? SDF explores these questions and more in his presentation, “What is Queer Feminism?” Speaking from the perspective of a transmasculine queer and an unapologetic feminist, Sam examines the intersecting interests and goals of feminism and the LGBTQA+ movement, and how to build a new vision founded in queer feminist principles.
Bipolar and Me – Recounting his own journey, “Bipolar and Me” is an inspirational account of one person’s struggles, triumphs, and challenges living with bipolar disorder. Offering a human perspective on an often misunderstood illness, Sam explains his transition from victim, to survivor, to advocate. In this moving presentation, Sam brings mental illness out of the shadows, and brings visibility to a cause so often ignored in the mainstream.
Stigma 101: Dismantling Shame and Healing Our Communities – What is stigma? Where does it come from, and what does it look like? How can we challenge stigma in our everyday lives? In “Stigma 101: Dismantling Shame and Healing Our Communities,” Sam examines the concept of stigma, its origins, and the ways in which we as social justice advocates can both challenge it and heal from its impact. Using his own experiences as transgender and bipolar as a compass, Sam explores the ways in which stigma has affected his life and his community – and how he has pushed back against it.
Neurodiversity and Self-Love – The dominant narrative surrounding mental illness and neurodiversity is one of shame. The toll this takes on people with mental health struggles is immense. How can we, as neurologically diverse people, practice self-love in spite of these messages that tell us to hide and be ashamed? In “Neurodiversity and Self-Love,” Sam talks about his own journey in self-love as a person with bipolar disorder, and the importance of this radical act of loving oneself despite stigma.
Queering Gender: Living Life Outside of the Binary – What does it mean to be genderqueer, non-binary, agender, neutrois? In “Queering Gender: Living Life Outside of the Binary,” Sam offers an introduction to non-binary gender, the myths and mysteries surrounding it, and shares his own experiences as genderqueer. A presentation for queer folks and allies alike, Sam opens up a conversation on the complexity of gender – and how we all can do better to support non-binary people.
In Trans*it: Transitioning as Non-Binary – If you aren’t one binary gender or the other, how exactly do you transition? In this presentation, Sam shares the story of his own transition as genderqueer, including the coming out process, gender pronouns, opting in or out of certain body modifications, the gaining and losing of social privileges, and most importantly, the lived experience of transition as a non-binary person. Drawing from this perspective, Sam explores what it means to transition when the path is unclear, and the “end result” may not, in fact, exist.
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