Transgender presenter says tits or death were her only options

Radio presenter Stephanie Hirst talks openly about gender reassignment surgery and spending decades living in the “wrong body”.

In an exclusive interview with BBC Sheffield’s Naked Podcast, radio and TV presenter Stephanie Hirst talks about how gender reassignment surgery has transformed her life and how unhappy she was living in a body which didn’t match her true gender.

Stephanie describes how she felt when she was living as “Hirsty” and presenting her breakfast show Hirsty’s Daily Dose on Capital FM.

“I would get home from work having had the time of my life for four hours but there’s another 20 hours in the day and I was in utter hell. I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. Now I can’t wait to get out of bed because I want to live my life.”

“I didn’t want to stop doing my job. I loved going to work in the morning, it’s what I lived for but I could no longer sit in the studio in the morning and do it. I wasn’t being my true self.”

Stephanie reveals how close she came to taking her own life: “In the end it was either tits or death. I was going to kill myself several times. I’m so glad I didn’t.”

Stephanie talks to Radio Sheffield reporters Kat Harbourne and Jenny Eells as part of the Naked Podcast series of interviews in which Kat and Jenny interview their guests completely naked. Stephanie was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and started hormone treatment in January 2014, after two years of gender psychotherapy to ‘fit in’.

Stephanie has kept the details of her surgeries private but when asked to ‘bare all’ for the Naked Podcast, she agreed to share her personal journey to finding true happiness within her body.

She describes the day when she underwent gender assignment surgery: “I eventually went down to theatre and before I knew it I had woken up and one of my best friends Donna was at the side of me. I didn’t have an initial wow moment when I awoke, that came months later when I was walking out of my bedroom naked [at home] towards the bathroom and I caught a vision of myself in a mirror and I was like – ‘I’ve done it….it’s fixed.’ That was my wow moment.”

Stephanie became the first transgender presenter to front a daily daytime show on BBC radio earlier this month when she started presenting The Stephanie Hirst Show on BBC Radio Leeds. She talks to Kat and Jenny about how she’s known she is female from a very young age. “At infant school, they put me with the boys but I thought I should be with the girls. I couldn’t vocalise it at the time because you’ve got no words for it at that age, have you? My natural state of comfortableness has always been female.”

“At school I was quite effeminate but I quickly realised this would get me a regular beating from the other boys in class. So I learnt really quickly that you had to toughen up or you got your head kicked in. I didn’t do a very good job of toughening up at all. I was bullied for years for just being girly and camp as it was called back then. It was quite unpleasant.”

As a teenager Stephanie confided in a doctor about how she felt: “I went to my GP when I was 17 and said to him that I feel like I’m a girl and his words were: ‘I strongly recommend you don’t take this path in life, you won’t have a successful life, you will lose friends and family and all sorts of stuff.’ That put the fear of God up me. So I retreated and brushed everything under the carpet. You just get on with it I guess. You just have to accept that this is how I came out and I can’t do anything about it.”

Kat and Jenny interviewed Steph in her own home, in her bedroom where she talked openly about how she felt having sex with a woman when she was a man. “I used to have to pretend I was where she was to get me through it. So, I just abstained from it.”

“And now I’m fuelled by oestrogen I’m not really attracted to women at all. I feel more comfortable with men but I do think as human beings we’re attracted to who we connect with. I think it’s a soul thing, not about gender.”

In the Naked Podcast interview she describes how she came out as being transgender in 2014 on Stephen Nolan’s show on BBC Radio 5 Live. At the time she was worried about the reaction she would get: “My biggest fear was that I was going to be nationally hated but I wasn’t willing to allow this to stop me becoming my true self. So, I came out during an interview with Stephen Nolan on 5 live. Stephen introduced me as Simon and then ended the interview as Stephanie which was nice.”

When the interview was broadcast Stephanie was with friends in London: “I recorded the interview on the Thursday and it went out on the Sunday. I was sat with one of my best friends Chris Moyles when the interview went out. Chris opened a bottle of champagne and then Eddie Izzard called from New York to congratulate me. I was afraid of [the reaction from] my friends and my social circle but I just received nothing but complete acceptance. I have not lost one person.”

The Naked Podcast interview with Stephanie Hirst, together with the other Naked Podcasts, are available here.

Stephanie Hirst presents The Stephanie Hirst Show on BBC Radio Leeds Mon-Fri from 9am to 12pm and Vinyl Revival on BBC Radio Manchester, Saturday 10pm until midnight.

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