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First-ever non-binary BBC Radio 1 presenter perfectly explains how coming out freed them from shame

Vic Parsons
·2-min read

Jacob Edward, who last Christmas was the first non-binary presenter on BBC Radio 1, has perfectly explained in just one minute why coming out freed them from shame about their gender.

Speaking as part of BBC Radio 1’s Minute of Me, which has seen young people across the UK given a minute each to broadcast to millions of listeners, Edward also described their experience of living with autism.

“For me, finding myself was something that didn’t come very easily,” Edward says in the clip, which has been broadcast on BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast show.

“The boxes that society put me in just didn’t seem to fit, so I had to consciously smash down those walls of shame that I’d built up in my own mind for being different.

“Embracing those differences is what freed me, made me so much better at what I do, as well as making me a heck of a lot happier.”

Edward made history when they became the first non-binary presenter on BBC Radio 1 as part of last year’s Christmas takeover.

They’ve since been critical of institutional transphobia within the radio industry, organising a damning open letter in September calling on the radio industry to tackle this and do more to represent transgender voices.

They have since been on a mission to get more trans and non-binary voices on air – culminating in their Minute of Me clip that has been heard by millions.

In it, Jacob Edward also speaks about being autistic, saying: “I’m autistic, meaning I experience the world differently to how you may experience it. Where a simple conversation can come easy to some, to me, it’s like trying to light a match in the rain.”

Finally, they describe what being non-binary means to them.

“I’m also non-binary, meaning I experience gender differently as well,” Edward says. “I express it differently, and use they/them pronouns instead of he/him or she/her.

“I’m done apologising for who I am, and also I was named after the boys from Twilight!”

Greg James, host of Radio 1 Breakfast, said: “During the pandemic it feels like we’ve got closer to our listeners than ever. They’ve helped us through the bleak times just as much as we’ve helped them.

“We’re not afraid to reflect real life on Radio 1, and as well as offering an escape from the sometimes harsh realities of life, we also need to use our platform to make sure as many people as possible are given an opportunity to be heard.”