The Beaches of Persia is a sound art production by my friend Antonio Ruiz. It comes from a series of interviews Antonio did with me, at least six years ago, at the University of Sussex, and is taken from my words, spoken by myself and actors, with its own music. Antonio is a real artist with sound, now focused on his music in his home city, Madrid.

It was based on my experience on a beach in Formentera in the spring of 1970, which I wrote about in my book The Choice, and I recorded as my first episode of this podcast. Antonio seized upon it and made something completely new out of it. It’s biographical, and someone else’s view of who I am, which sometimes makes me wonder about who I am in the first place. It#s not in the usual format but Soundcloud, where I first used it, years ago.

This is a further chapter of my book The Choice; there have been others in this podcast series, such as The Boy on the Beach, or First the Stomach. This chapter is about the power of words to create our worlds. It’s inspired by the teachings on what is called Matrika Shakti, Shakti being creative power, the Goddess, and matrika means letters, which make words, which make stories, which make our words, our destinies.

The Masks of Gender are the form of the stories that make up so much of what we think we are, and are nothing other than dreams. It’s definitely best to wake up is what I’ve found, and it’s done not by adding another story, but by subtraction, taking away that which makes things less than they are. Then all that is left is who we are. As Byron Katie asks, Who would you be without your story?

The externals of my life have been greatly challenging recently, as one great friend came to the end of her life – more on that later – and another of my closest became ill with another disease, unspoken of at this time. It’s a time of shifting and changing, an end and a beginning, and in that time I will create episodes of my own insights and writing until I have the space and time to create more conversations. I hope what I am sharing is valuable to you.

Faynia Williams is such a rich and profound, long experienced woman in the world of the theatre and the theatre of the world that I just knew she would be a wonderful voice to add to the diverse voices on the Masks of Gender.

It was great to spend talking time with her in the room at the top of the house she shares with her husband, the unique Richard Crane. We’ve had them to dinner a couple of times and never want it to end; the best of company.

In a way that’s what I’m sharing with you; the depth and wisdom Faynia brings to the dinner party of life. Is the world a theatre or is the theatre a world, or both or neither? Well, yes to all of it. For me it’s always great to talk to a someone as experienced and talented as Faynia, someone who has worked with the best to create roles and dramas that are reflections of who we are. It certainly makes for good listening.

My intention from the beginning in creating this podcast, The Masks of Gender, was to bring Clarity into this fundamental way we humans create boxes to live in, see the world from, create difference, introduce power plays and so on. It’s about how we make our worlds, for me the most fascinating subject of all.

My decades of meditation practice, as well as my long study of aspects of consciousness, ways of seeing, combined with the insight that being what is called trans, transgender, transgressive, opens doors to the way we see the world, the way we make our individual worlds. And it’s not just about gender, it’s about our thoughts, beliefs, aversions, and so on, and the inner Self, the Tao, the consciousness which lies behind the mind.

This post is one of the insights, as opposed to conversations, I’ve been putting up since the beginning, in fact at the beginning, when I tried out my new podcast theme for WordPress – Podcaster – with a reading of a chapter of my book The Choice entitled The Boy on the Beach. It’s still there, number one.

In this post, I read a little from the fascinating and profound work of Byron Katie, which gives profound insight into a chapter of the Tao te Ching, then I take it further into my own experience. I hope you find it valuable, interesting, inspiring even.

The picture, by the way, is of me the baby more than sixty years ago, already gendered, looking a bit unhappy about the gender that I had arrived into, without being asked, but which created a destiny which taught me much, and opened the doors to being who I am today. All of us have our very own destinies, divinely hand-crafted with the gift of the challenges we need to find ourselves this life, if we are lucky and blessed.

Over the last few months I’ve heard Jane speak more than once with clear intelligence, wisdom and wit that I just knew she was prime for this podcast. How right I was. She’s clear, very smart, informed and is full of informed insight. And, as she said, far too clever when she was a girl.

She has a name in Brighton for her oral histories of older lesbian women, her own kind, which are truly fascinating, particularly in terms of the lives these woman led when they lived that infamous closet. As I’m round her age, I know from my own experience what a different world we live in, as society shifts and changes round us. Where are we going next?

So here, with me in my studio bedroom, where sound is pretty good (large bed, thick carpet, curtains and open wardrobe to cut sound bounce), we talked as two older women with our own perspectives on identity, gender, this shifting world, our chemical selves, the safety of the closet and more.

Jane is a gem, and I’m delighted to help give voice to her valuable contribution to this podcast. The wisdom of the elder. You know what? I’m getting to love doing this, deep talking and sharing the depths of great people with you.

This conversation was recorded at a friend’s house, a fine Edwardian pile between the New Forest and the sea. It was a second go at recording – our first conversation was at the RSA iin London and I made a technical error with background sound, so it didn’t work. It was a good excuse to spend more time with Ayla, her inside and outside beauty, sharp wisdom, good nature and truthfulness.

We looked out of a bedroom over the splendid garden, bursting with flowers, and went deeper and deeper into ourselves, ending up in a very sweet state of being indeed. It’s all here with you in this conversation, which fulfils a major aim of this podcast – to introduce anyone and everyone to the fine, profound people we trans folk are.