Fox is a film-maker, an artist and a relentless advocate for trans and non binary people everywhere. It’s a tough game they play, one that I have played myself so I know how hard it can be.

In this recording Fox and I talked of being between two identities, such as gender and race, and the word that emerged more than once was gift, in terms of both what we receive and what we have to give. Within this idea is the essence of The Masks of Gender; behind the roles we play, which always diminish, is a wonder, something privileged we receive and then give. Then, towards the end of our conversation they came up with the considered words the lighter self which is, to me, a beautiful way of stating what we become, we trans people of the world. So there’s the title of the episode.

The point we are trying to put over is not that it is just people like us who have the gift, that something special within us, it’s everyone, and it lies deep within the heart of us all, behind all the limiting masks we wear.

I met Lisa a few years ago now, when a successful event I hosted at the main library in Amsterdam failed to create the crowds I was promised would be beating down the doors to see me again. In the end only one person came, and that was Lisa. It was worth the trip.

In that way I met a great Friend, someone who is, in many ways, a reflection of myself. As she says in our Conversation, she knew people who had expertise in spiritual matters, people who had expertise in gender matters, but in our friendship found a shared deep interest in both, and this is what we talked of when she came to visit last month.

Without spiritual insight, wider and deeper awareness, our view of anything is limited, and this means gender as much as anything else. As gender is the foundation identity of our lives, this insight is critical. If we don’t see who and what we are in a deeper, wider way of seeing, we are destined to go round in circles, reading the same story every day, working hard but moving little, trapped in the mask we thought was who we are. But being awake brings light and choice to everything we do. It’s made a huge difference to my life, and the underlying intention of this podcast is to share this with you.

I was educated in intersex matters to a degree way past my previous, limited viewpoint, at the Trans, Non-binary and Intersex Conference held here in Brighton in 2018. A panel of intersex people talked of their life experiences. They were hugely varied; no story was the same. And all of them were horrific in what had been done to them, mostly by the medical profession. Their stories resonated with my own trans story, because we shared some element of being treated as the other because we didn’t match up with the strict assumptions and expectations, the rules of how a human should be, and were punished for our transgressions, for being outside the strict, unconscious stereotypes that rule our gendered world.

But for the intersex folks it was far worse. I could hardly bear to stay in the room and hear yet another tale of abuse, pain, disrespect and more. It all resonated with my own past far too much for comfort and went far further. But stay I did, because I needed to know, and I’m so glad. Because I met and listened to a group of remarkable people who taught me about another way of being, strength and integrity. And it was clear that their bodies were not the problem so much as the unconsciously gendered minds that judged and acted on some socially constructed ideas of a perfect way of being, like one of those immaculate apples in the supermarket that deny the nature of much varied apples.

One of the members of that panel was Susannah Temko, Suz, and listening to her made it obvious that she should have another place in which to have her remarkable voice heard. What a story, what a woman, how privileged I felt to spend time with her in library of the RSA in London, sharing, listening and learning. Listen to her bright intelligence, her insight, her voice that speaks from a depth of experience that tells so much of our shared humanity. As I once wrote; there ain’t no them, it’s all us.