Stephanie Hirst told would 'not have a successful life'

Transgender radio host Stephanie Hirst, 47, says she was left suicidal after a doctor warned her not to transition aged 17, saying she would ‘lose family, friends and not have a successful life’

  • Stephanie Hirst, who lives in London, reflected on being born in the wrong body
  • Told Loose Women viewers, doctor advised her against transitioning to female
  • Radio host said her mother thought her desire to be female would go away 

Stephanie Hirst has revealed a doctor warned her against transitioning from male to female when she was a teenager because it would affect her relationships and ability to have a ‘successful life’.

The BBC Radio Leeds host, 47, who announced that she was going through gender reassignment in 2014, explained to the Loose Women panel the challenges she faced before being given the opportunity to transition. 

She claimed to have known from the age of three that she was in the wrong body, but it wasn’t until she was a teenager that she spoke to a doctor about having gender reassignment surgery. 

Revealing the medic warned her not to go ahead because she would ‘lose family, friends and not have a successful life, viewers took to Twitter to praise Barnsley-born Stephanie for going ahead with transitioning decades later.

Stephanie (pictured) said her mother brushed her desire to be a female ‘under the carpet’ and thought it would go away 

Stephanie spoke candidly to the panel about her experience of wanting to change gender, while not having any reference points because the internet wasn’t around at the time.

Stephanie said: ‘I knew from at least three or four because when you’re at school they put all the girls on one  side of the classroom and all of the boys on the other. I would just default and go and sit with the girls.

‘They were like, “No you belong over there”, so they would do it again and my natural default was just to go sit with the girls.

‘This became a bit of a problem and was raised to my mum, but there was no internet or reference points.

‘I think the kids at school worked out that I was different before I worked it out myself to be honest. I was quiet, short, very effeminate, liked Shakin’ Stevens. There was probably a lot of things. I’m still a Shakin’ fan.

‘The kids saw a vulnerability in me. I didn’t walk out the school gates with everybody else, I used to stay behind in the library just reading books.

Stephanie Hirst (pictured) revealed a doctor advised her not to transition from male to female during a panel discussion on ITV’s Loose Women 

‘I saw something one day, and it was a little paragraph and it had the words “believe, achieve” in it.

‘I use to say that to myself all the time, “believe, achieve”, while tapping my forehead on believe and pointing on achieve.

‘That drove me, that helped me, because I always wanted to be on the radio. I think radio is one of your first freedoms in life.

‘When you get your first radio you tune around and you can go anywhere. 

‘It’s like when you get your first bike you go to the end of your street then you get a bit braver and you go straight ahead. You feel like you’ve been on holiday. ‘

Stephanie admitted it was difficult to discuss her gender identity with her mother because she didn’t understand her desire to be female.

Stephanie said: ‘I think she brushed it under the carpet a little bit, she just thought it would go away. I think a lot of mums did that because there was no information.

Stephanie said she experienced suicidal thoughts before coming out with her plans for gender reassignment in 2014. Pictured: Stephanie (left) before transitioning with Stephen Nolan

‘The internet for good or bad has changed a lot of things. It’s made us feel more connected and it surely did that for me when I was growing up and got the internet.’

Reflecting on her teen years, she continued saying: ‘I remember I had just past my driving test, you get a bit of courage.

‘I went to see [the doctor] and I told him how I felt, he said something along the lines of ‘I strongly recommend you don’t take this path in life. You’ll lose family, friends and you won’t have a successful life’.

‘I remember getting back in my car and just crying my eyes out. That was the point I went, “Right, radio, that’s it, because I was working at my local radio station from the age of 12 making tea for DJs.

‘At this point I decided radio and music are the only thing that makes it go away. It was the sticking plaster. I decided in my Vauxhall Nova in that car park, radio, that’s the thing that makes it go away.

‘I threw myself into my career and had an incredible career, it was amazing.’

Stephanie explained that she decided to be open about her desire to be a woman in 2014 because living in the wrong body was making her feel suicidal.

She said: ‘I got to a point where I couldn’t continue any longer and I was constantly thinking about it. I did the biggest breakfast show outside London, huge show with lots of people listening but I was going into work everyday feeling traumatised.

Stephanie (pictured) said her friend since college Kate, was the one who encouraged her to go see the doctor again 

‘I was on my way home and there would be a certain point on the M1 where the carriageway near where I live is higher than the other carriageway. I would want to turn my car into the central reservation, I kid you not, every day for over a decade.

‘I got to a point one day where literally one arm was pulling it the other way and the other is pulling it the other. I ended up going out to lunch with a friend of mine Kate, who I told when I was 17 just after I went to the doctor for the first time.

‘She brought it up weirdly in conversation and we had not spoken about for years. I told her “I just couldn’t live I want to die, I can’t do this any longer, I’m living a lie. This is wrong”.

‘But I’ve got this incredible career, the radio station I was working for was pumping six-figures into the bank and there’s an Aston Martin sat on the driveway, all of these trinkets.

‘But that’s not authenticity. We all need to be authentic and it was Kate that pushed me to go to the doctors. 

‘I went to the doctors and I guess in some respect I was very lucky because when I was seen by my gender identity clinic I was referred within about nine weeks.

Stephanie (pictured second from right) told the Loose Women panel it took just nine weeks for a referral 

‘Whereas now if you go to your doctors and you’re referred to a gender identity clinic it’s between three and five years because the system is simply not set up. 

‘Someone may be watching today and saying,”I feel like that”. Well trust me if you do feel like that it will be ok it really will be.’

Sharing advice, Stephanie added: ‘You have to be authentic, you have to be prepared to jump through some hoops of fire. If you are going to go through something like this.

‘It shouldn’t be automatically easy that you can just all of a sudden decide that you’re changing your gender and that’s it self ID instantly.

‘But you know get the right people, get the right help and the right professionals. Talk, speak to people. Psychotherapy worked wonderfully for me because that helped me to make the right decision.’

Panelist Janet Street-Porter asked if having money in the bank was helpful for her journey in comparison to those who want to have gender reassignment on the NHS.

Stephanie responded: ‘I lost everything. Financially there had been cash coming in and I wasn’t crazy with it. I had always been saving because I knew that I was going to do this one day.

Stephanie (pictured) said she saved as much money as possible before going ahead with gender reassignment surgery 

‘I was trying to save as much as I could. I know people that have transitioned without having a lot of money in the bank or anything like that and they’ve done it wonderfully.

‘The one thing I’ve tried not to do is be a victim. We all should be authentic, we all should be allowed to be our true authentic selves and just get on with our lives.

‘Biology sometimes I see it, it gets a little bit drunk and puts things in the wrong order. My soul and my brain formed opposite to what I came out looking like.’

Stephanie’s appearance on the panel left viewers moved with some calling for her to be a permanent addition. 

One person wrote: ‘Big fan of @StephanieHirst. Wonderfully honest, reachable & clear. Great chat on @LooseWomen for anyone who feels they were born into the wrong body. So moving to hear her talking about her dark days & coming out the other side.’

Another said: ‘Stephanie is so engaging and speaks with incredible articulation. Maybe a potential new panelist? I wouldn’t be made at that #LooseWomen’

A third added: ‘@StephanieHirst absolutely loving your interview on #LooseWomen. Such a brave person throughout your life and you look absolutely amazing’ 

A flood of viewers took to Twitter to praise Stephanie for sharing her experience and encouraging others who may be considering transitioning 

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