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.

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.

The Reverend Jide Macauley, my friend Jide, is a great and lovely man, so honest in his heart it blows me away. After all he has been through – being a gay Nigerian Christian in a country that punishes LGBT+ people, being black in a white world in the UK, being openly HIV+, being rejected by his father and country, having to flee Nigeria, on and on, he has transcended all to become full of compassion, empathy and self-love which inspires me deeply.

Listening to our conversation before posting it, I was deeply inspired by his courage, deep Christian faith and love. Listen to this man, he is open and real and inspiring. Love to you, Jide.

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.

When I started this conversation with Wayne, the last thing expected was for him to open with these words; ‘let’s begin with race.’ But OK, let’s, and so we hear something of the inner experience of Wayne Mertins-Brown as he walks his walk through his world through the lens of his identity and experience. It’s very powerful, almost shocking, but also has some resonance with my own experience as a trans woman. Race and gender; two ways to classify and diminish others.

This is yet another profound insight into the world we live in, so full and rich and complete that, for a moment, I wondered if there was anywhere else to go.

So we began with race, one of the most powerful intersections with gender that keeps on emerging in The Masks of Gender, and end with the sweetness of self-recognition, the sense of knowing who we are at our deepest depths.

What a wonderful man, and Friend, is Wayne, what a privilege we have to hear his wisdom, good heartedness and truth.