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 – our first conversation was at the RSA iin London and I made a technical error with my little recorder. It was a good excuse to spend more time with Ayla, her 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.

What a magic wonder it is to see the inner being, not just the gender but a lot more, emerge from their depths of someone’s being and become embodied to make them a new place in the wider world. Rory is one of those people that I’ve witnessed on this journey.

Now he’s a well established man of his own, with many a fine insight, keen perception and a unique way of his own, now he is living authentically as himself. The title of this episode, Authenticity is the Key, came out of his mouth as we talked, and I wrote it down quickly in case it got lost. These few words make a gem. Within them is everything I’m working to show. As it says in, I think, the Upanishads; when the unreal vanishes, the real remains.

When the acquired mask of gender is taken away – gently, I hope – then what remains is that authentic self, that we we are in our heart of hearts. This is what this transition is all about, folks, it may well be what all of our lives are about. come to think about it.

My time with Emily Brothers seems to have opened yet another door, something special for me. Her openness, determination, walking her life through her disability and trans identity into politics and activism, touched me deeply.

I am pleased to be able to give you a taste of my afternoon with her, someone I feel we can all learn something from. I find myself thinking this – you got something to complain about, Persia West? Or is it time to stop any form of whining and sense of lack of power, and make some real difference to the world around you? In this way Emily touched and inspired me; she’s so worth listening to; not just for the words but the spirit behind them.

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