So many times I wonder, as I am recording another of these fine conversations that are this podcast, if this person I am talking to is just the best of all. This happened a couple of days ago when I spoke to Jess and was confirmed when I listened to it before I give it out to the world. I just loved talking to Jess in this deep way, penetrating into the heart of our experience, and me having the joy of learning from her insights.

I feel that here we have true wisdom, profundity of awareness, practised over years into a compassionate maturity, working with young people, and the young person we all still are – as she does. Here is evidence of the wisdom that lies within all of us, when we have the good fortune to live from Presence.

What more can I write? It’s all in what has been spoken. This, folks, is what The Masks of Gender is all about. How deep can we go? Who knows, I’ve only just begun.

?You can see more of the remarkable Jess, more about the artist, the painter, at jesswoodpainter.co.uk

This was supposed to be the first episode, in which I gave some idea of what The Masks of Gender podcast was all about. Claire Doran came to ask me some questions to get the show on the road, and added to the whole thing with her clear mind, her own identity issues – which box do I tick when none of them are me? – her easy understanding of the complexities and realities of gender identities, and more. I think I hesitated to post this episode because I quickly found that this whole concept was far deeper and wider than I imagined, so I left it to see what I said still made sense some time later. It does, so here it is.

Molly describes herself as being a mother, a lawyer, a feminist and an Irish musician. The essence of our conversation was around her trans son, around 11 at this time, and what she learned about gender, identity, truth and more from what her son has taught her. The line in the title – the love cuts through – came from her mouth, and is of the essence of the masks of gender; cut through them to the truth of our essential identity, our reality who we really are.

Just before I started to publish this podcast, The Masks of Gender, I thought it might be useful to begin with me talking to someone who knew me well, asking me about my intentions, my inspirations, my hopes and dreams, what I value, what are my ways of seeing, and so on.

Fortune favoured me; Claire Doran agreed to be that person who held the conversation with me that inspired me to tell it all, or as much as I knew at the time. She works for the RSA, the Royal Society of Arts, of which I am a fellow, and she supports this podcast both personally and professionally, which I feel privileged to receive.

For reasons I’m unsure of, I didn’t put it up first, even though in the beginning of the recording I lead with a welcome to the whole series. Perhaps I wondered if I had to create some conversations before I really knew what I was doing. In fact, when I listened to it again, and although I’ve definitely learned a lot about my podcast game, the content holds up well, and I think it’s a good time to post it.

Claire really is a wonder; clear, open, sharp, with a wonderful background to bring her own particular insights into identity, gender and more. She agreed to be the contributor to her own episode, it’s in the recording, and I am going to chase her to talk to us all soon.

I don’t have the right picture of Claire as yet. When I do I’ll insert it. The image shown is of a small part of a garden sculpture I made some years ago, when I was a garden designer and maker. Another identity which has come and gone, as they do. Podcaster; there’s another.

My book The Choice is a kind of summation of what I learned over the decades of my spiritual practices, meditation, study and self examination, twenty five compassionately short chapters to fit in between stations on the commuter train, or fill in time in the bathroom during the release after breakfast.

As the tricky and profound matters of gender and identity was also an underlying theme of my life – and still is – my spiritual practice gave insights into my gendered conundrums.

First the Stomach is, I think, the most personal and direct chapter of the book. It’s about truth and loss, revelation, compassion (which comes up time and again) and what we are when all of what we think we are is stripped away. Who are we when our gendered tales are removed? What am I without all what I think is me? When I have no gender, what am I?

When I sat and listened to the recording of the conversation I had with Molly, in the library of the RSA in London, I thought: what a privilege to spend such an intimate and profound time of the heart with such a woman as this. In fact, this podcast project is a great way to do what I love; sharing a space of intimacy and heart with remarkable people, then sharing it with you.

Molly was introduced to me as she is the mother of a trans child, also a feminist, a lawyer and musician. Seems to me that she lives and expresses these diverset aspects of herself in a fine balance, to me a rare attainment in our world.

This is one of the longer conversations, and I didn’t want to miss a moment of it so cut nothing out at all. Her straightforward honesty, her eloquence, her recognition of the masculine in the deep identity of her dear child, and with that the encouragement for him to flourish, made me wish all trans kids have such a mother as this. Or maybe simply all kids; after all, every one of us needs recognition and the nourishment of love to become all we are and can be.