In this recording of a public conversation, Andrea and I talk about her experience of following a hint I once gave her, in one of my ‘Salons’, as how to make her voice heard in a management meeting in Sussex University, dominated by, guess who, middle aged white guys in suits. What I suggested worked, amazingly well, and it came from the unique trans, outsider’s perspective on gender and power.

This recording comes from an RSA (Royal Society of Arts) sponsored event in November 2017. It’s one of the inspirations for the podcast. As this track was plucked out from the whole evening, it starts and finishes a little abruptly, but it’s OK, the essence of the Conversation is clear.

Andrea Cornwall was, at the time, the head of the International Development School at the University of Sussex. She was, in essence, an anthropologist who had been involved over time with women in developing countries. And when she heard my trans insights into gender, the outsider’s view which had been honed and developed over many years of meditation and awareness training, her ears pricked up.

This conversation, in front of an audience, was unrehearsed and unplanned. I am, however, pleased to this day with the sequence that evolved. It’s about power, feminine power in essence, and how it can be developed. More than once I’ve talked to trans women friends about our perception of women unconsciously denying themselves power in this male dominated world. It’s explained in this way. A woman once said to me that she thought I had personal power, even though I’d not only transitioned into being a woman to the world, but I was trans as well, another assumption of powerlessness. Was it because I was brought up a boy? The strange assumption was that my lost place in the power hierarchy was maintained despite it being lost. No, I told her: it’s because I wasn’t brought up a girl. I hadn’t learned to deny myself in that particular way. I’d found ways of my own.

For some years now I’ve been listening to and reading the virtuoso words of Eric Page, ever since I came to live here in Brighton. Eric. How could I miss sharing this great champion of gay, lesbian, bi, trans and anyone else’s rights and safety that needed protecting? What would he come up with if I let him off the leash and tempted him with an audience?

It’s done and recorded, after we ate the lovely cakes he brought up to my little flat, my eagle’s nest high above the city, and I feel privileged. The unexpected bonus to making this podcast is spending powerful and intimate time with the remarkable people who give colour to my world. It’s an excuse to go deep and then deeper, to the places where the gold lies. As I once said recently, my friends are my treasure, and Eric’s one of them.

We began by talking of language itself, the nuances of the ways of speaking we learned as kids, Eric in South Wales, me in Liverpool, and how we shifted our accents and ways of speaking to merge with the duller but safer ways English is spoke in this South East of England where we live. It’s one way we create our masks to fit in with the masqued ball of the world. Then we moved on to other insights and wisdom, which is what this podcast is all about, the light the outsiders shine on the insider’s worlds.

Mariam is a bright spark of individual life, quirky, fast and sharp with a high femme presentation and a logical, some may say masculine mind within it. To me she is yet another way of expressing the power that comes with combining the two primal aspects of humanity in one person, the contradictions that make us who we are.

I am very much at home with this merging of the masculine and feminine. It’s something we all do; in the Jungian sense of every woman having their animus, every man having his anima, but some perform this essence of human existence more openly than others. Maybe that’s why Mariam and myself are such good friends.

But, of course, gender is just a part of any of us, and on top of this primal identity are all the rest of the identities we assemble to live our lives. Mariam talks about gender, race, power which affects countless millions around this human world, and so much more from her wide life, so she talks for many.