13/10/2014

The transformation of caterpillar into butterfly

For the majority of my teenage years I tuned into Galaxy FM (later re-branded into Capital) and listened to Hirsty's Daily Dose. I laughed along with Hirsty, Danny and JoJo and felt like I knew them as friends.

But it turns out you never really know someone at all and that the person you see and hear everyday may not be the person they truly are. Putting on an act everyday of your life must be exhausting. Pretending to be someone you're not must make you dread waking up every morning. And that's what it's been like for well-known breakfast dj Simon Hirst. 

This weekend, Simon Hirst made the decision to announce to the British public that he is half way through gender re-assignment therapy and, from now on, will be known as Stephanie. 

In her interview, Stephanie said she has struggled for most of her life to hide who she really felt she was. 

The courage, bravery and, ironically, balls that she has shown the last few days to stand up and speak out about this has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I feel an outpouring of pride towards Stephanie, like I would towards a friend who had just achieved something remarkable. 

To think of all those thousands of mornings that I listened to Hirsty and relied on him to lift my mood before school or college, now knowing how low he must have felt trapped inside a body that he didn't feel was his makes me feel really sad. 

Whilst the majority of responses to Stephanie's revelation have been incredibly supportive and heartwarming, there are some who find it difficult to comprehend and understand. 

To see the outpouring of positivity and love towards her restored all my faith in humanity. People are too quick in this day in age to attack anything, or anyone, that's different. To see Stephanie immediately accepted for who she is, and millions supporting her through this, made me feel very proud to be a part of this county and country. 

I cannot imagine how difficult her life has been until this weekend. The sheer torture it must be to wake up every morning knowing you're not the person everyone thinks you are. Being trapped in a body and boxed in a life that you know isn't yours must be one of the worst things to experience. There's no escape from it. Ever. 

The fear of what people will say and the unknown must have terrified her for such a large part of her life. 

I hope she knows now that her honesty and courage have left her regarded in my mind, and probably many others, as one of the bravest people I've known.

The world has come a long way and so has Stephanie. 

She proves that standing up and being yourself is the most empowering thing you can ever do. Don't ever shy away from who you are and pretend to be someone you're not just because you don't think society will agree.  You never know, it might surprise you. 

There are sure to be millions of people out there who are going through exactly what Stephanie has. She has shown all of those people who are struggling with their identity that it is ok to be you. To not shy away or feel scared about being yourself. 

People have their own ideas of role models - usually they are celebrities or sports stars. To me, Stephanie is one of the best role models out there. If her revealing her battle to the world helps make it easier for one more person going through what she's been through, then it's all been worthwhile. 

I hope Stephanie will be back gracing the airwaves soon, I'm sure everyone is dying to hear her back permanently. 

Until then, I hope she feels supported and loved by her millions of fans and all of us who grew up listening to her and view her as a friend. A friend who is too inspiring and brave for words. 

The caterpillar who has transformed and blossomed into a beautiful, confident butterfly. 

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