“Always be True to Yourself”
This weekend, one of my wonderful colleagues and buddies became a perfect example of this. On Saturday evening, he announced to the nation on the BBC’s Radio 5 Live that he’s going to live the rest of his life as a woman.
From Sunday morning – she did.
Simon Hirst is now Stephanie Hirst and half way through gender re-assignment therapy. If you didn’t hear the interview, I urge you to click on the link above and invest an hour of your time to being inspired.
We used to present Hit40UK together and I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous during that broadcast on Saturday evening. In this Katie Hopkin era of bringing anyone down who’s deemed “different” I contacted loads of my friends ahead of the interview and asked them to tweet their support. I sent Simon supportive texts ahead of that 10pm broadcast and warned him to ignore any haters.
But courage and honesty count for a lot.
To be in your late 30’s and announce to the world that you’re changing sex takes courage. But to have spent most of your life in the public eye and to have so many people who’ve grown up listening to you in your male dominated world of radio? THEN to go public with something so personal? Courageous seems a woefully inadequate description.
The broadcast went live and I sat, nervously.
Then… BOOM. It started. Within minutes #hirsty was trending on twitter and there was an outpouring of support across all social media platforms. It was emotional to watch. Today the story is across all media. The article in today’s Daily Mail has been shared almost 1000 times in the 2 hours since it was published and, here’s the shocker – ALL of the comments are positive. When does that EVER happen on the Daily Mail website?
Over the summer I read a wonderful book called Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron, which charts her “adventures in raising a gender creative son”. I’m not a fast reader but I DEVOURED the book on our flight to Rhodes, tears streaming down my cheeks. I think everyone should read this book. It’s amazing and insightful. I was horrified to read about the “Kraig” experiment, conducted at UCLA as recently as the 1970’s. In an attempt to make “Kraig” less ”girly” his mother would reward him for masculine behaviour and his father would beat him for feminine behaviour. IN THE 70’s! There are no words.
When I wrote about Eurovision earlier in the year my faith in humanity grew but the outpouring of love for Stephanie just goes to show just how far we’ve come. It’s been totally overwhelming and I hope Stephanie becomes a poster girl for being YOU.
I keep getting asked “Did you have any idea”? “Did you ever notice anything”?
I know what people are REALLY asking. As mentioned in the interview, Simon was always super careful to hide any signs – that was all part of feeling he needed to hide who he really was.
So my answer?
ABSOLUTELY I noticed. I always knew Hirsty was an AMAZING individual, with the ability to make a huge difference. I’m so thrilled she finally gets to do that! If Stephanie can be true to herself and stand up and be counted, so can you.
Stephanie – I’m SO proud of you. And I was going to write “Welcome to the world” but you’ve actually always been here.
You just don’t have to hide anymore.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,
It became a butterfly”