UK

Sex change DJ Simon Hirst: Leaked letter reveals decision

Simon Hirst, now Stephanie
Image caption Ms Hirst announced on Saturday that she is halfway through gender reassignment treatment

A radio presenter undergoing gender reassignment was told by her employer it was in her best interests to come off air as she went through the transition, according to a letter seen by the BBC.

Simon Hirst, now Stephanie, hosted a breakfast show on Capital FM Yorkshire and Vinyl Heaven on Gold.

But after 11 years she came off air in June without any prior notice.

Global Radio, which owns the commercial stations, said the DJ had decided to leave "to focus on the process".

The letter has been seen by BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The document, which is addressed to Simon Hirst and signed by the executive director of Global Radio Richard Park, states both stations "did not think gender reassignment was suitable or commercially viable content" for shows.

It goes on to say: "We have a responsibility for your well-being, and having considered the matter we are not satisfied that going through this process 'on air' is in your best interests."

The company writes it will continue to provide the DJ with support throughout the process "in any way we can".

'Feel alive'

Ms Hirst, 39, announced on Saturday on BBC Radio 5 live that she was half way through gender reassignment treatment, and that she is now living her life as a woman, and is changing her name to Stephanie. Her nickname continues to be Hirsty.

In her latest interview with the BBC she said: "I genuinely feel alive. I wake up in the morning now and I want to get up because there's stuff to do and I didn't want to get up as a man."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ms Hirst said she was now living as a woman during an interview with BBC Radio 5 live DJ Stephen Nolan

She said she knew early on that she wanted to be a female.

"My first recollections are when I was about eight years old, I wore a girl's roller skates who lived round the corner and it just felt right. Something immediately clicked and I don't know what it was," she said.

Numerous sources have told the BBC that Ms Hirst was suspended by bosses at Global Radio when she disclosed that she wanted to be a woman.

It is claimed she was not given the opportunity to have a final show to say goodbye to her fans.

'Supportive'

But in a statement in response to these allegations, the media company said: "Hirsty made the decision to take time out to focus on the process he was going through.

"We were sad to see Hirsty leave but we were happy to offer him our full support.

"We wish Stephanie all the best in the future. It's standard practice in radio for presenters to come off air once they've made a decision to leave."

Ms Hirst claims the two parties have come to a suitable agreement. It is believed that she has signed a non-disclosure agreement.

When asked about claims that she was treated wrongly by her former employer, she said: "Everyone was supportive. There is nothing more I can add that can be of use to you."

Global Radio has several stations within its portfolio including Heart, Capital, Classic FM, Smooth, LBC, and Gold.

It broadcasts to more than 20 million people each week, and is part of the This is Global Ltd British media company.

Ms Hirst gained much popularity after presenting the national commercial Top 40 chart show between 2003 and 2006.

Recently she was hosting Hirsty's Daily Dose breakfast show on Capital FM Yorkshire.

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