A popular South Yorkshire radio presenter has announced he is undergoing treatment to become a woman.
Simon Hirst, 39, from Barnsley, shocked listeners when he suddenly left his Hirsty’s Daily Dose breakfast show on Capital FM Yorkshire in June.
Now he has revealed in a radio interview that he is changing gender in order to live life as a woman.
He said he is halfway through gender reassignment treatment and, this week, changed his name to Stephanie Hirst.
Simon said he had made the decision to become a woman because he ‘doesn’t want to hide anymore.’
“There were many times on the air in recent years where I nearly said that I’m transgender,” he said.
“I knew from around the same time that I knew I wanted to be on the radio that something wasn’t right.
“I didn’t feel complete, I didn’t feel like it locked. I felt like a square peg in a round hole but I didn’t know why and I couldn’t work it out.”
Hirst, who also hosted the Hit40UK national commercial radio Top 40 chart between 2003 and 2006, said it was hard to leave his popular breakfast show.
“But I got to the point in my life where I had to stop doing what I was doing to have some time out to focus on me, because I have devoted my entire life to radio,” he said.
He said the torment of carrying the secret around with him was like ‘someone poking you in the arm constantly, just tapping you. It’s like that every single day’.
“From the minute I woke up to the minute I went to sleep it was always there,” he said. “The thought was there in my head constantly.”
Simon said: “I’d drive home in the car - I’d be driving home on the M1 and, honestly, I could have just turned the wheel to the central reservation. I didn’t of course. Or I would scream.
“I remember sitting in my kitchen rocking backwards and forwards going ‘just make this stop, go away, leave me alone’ and I felt like she was eating me up inside.”
Asked how he felt his listeners would react to him as a female presenter, he said: “I’m just me, I’m the same person.
“I’m not going to flounce around in flowery dresses all day. I’m just me, I’m just a human being, I still love people, still care for people the same way - nothing changes.
“And for anyone who is going through this or anyone who’s thinking of going through this we don’t change, we don’t change. Yes, the exterior changes but we’re still the same people.”
Simon said he chose the name Stephanie to link with his old life.
“My name was Simon Neil Hirst and I still want to keep my initials because it’s important to me, that.
“Some people in my position want to eradicate their past and forget about it. But I’m very proud of what I have done in my past and I’m not going to erase that or try and get rid of it. I can’t and I don’t want to, it’s who I am.”
“I can get up and I can be myself and for me that encapsulates everything. I don’t have to hide anymore, don’t have to hide anymore. I can be me. I am a woman - and that’s it.”
A Capital Yorkshire spokesman said: “We don’t comment on people’s personal matters. We were sad to see Hirsty leave the breakfast show and we wish him all the best for the future.”