Nora J.S Reichardt, reporter of “Local 5 News” in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, made headlines around the world when she came out as trans during a live broadcast. Very kindly, Nora granted us this interview.
You’ve probably been answering this a lot lately, but how was your process to understand that you are trans?
It was a slower process for me — I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and originally I tried to approach dealing with those as isolated issues. But with time, I started to realize that those were symptoms of me struggling with my gender identity. Going to high school in a pretty rural area, I didn’t quite know how to handle that at the time, but when I got to college, I had more opportunities to learn about what it meant to be trans. During early COVID, I spent a lot of time online, reading accounts from other trans people about what their journey was like, but I was still too scared to transition while I was in school. Shortly after graduation, I began my current job as a TV reporter, and after a few months on air, I finally realized that I couldn’t keep pushing my feelings away and began seeing a therapist to begin the process of accepting that I’m trans.
How did it feel to finally be able to assert your gender to yourself?
It’s a wave of relief. After spending so long lying to myself, and by extension the people around me, publicly coming out feels like a massive weight has been removed from me. I’m more in-tune with my thoughts and feelings, I’m a better friend, and I’m no longer burdened with trying to hide every day. I get to be 100% myself all the time, and getting to do that has made me the best possible version of me.
Many trans people don’t do HRT, which is understandable and isn’t what makes you trans. That said, how did you make the decision to do HRT?
For me, the thing that convinced me to pursue HRT wasn’t the physical changes—it was the mental ones. So many trans women who shared their stories online described how getting the right hormones has allowed them to express more emotions and feel them more deeply, and that’s exactly what I wanted from the process. On HRT, I feel so much more like myself than I ever did before!
A fear that many of us trans have is to come out at work. You did it not just at work but while were live. How did it feel?
I went back-and-forth for a long time about how to address my transition on air. After a lot of discussions with friends, I decided to be direct with the audience. I’d been reporting for WOI for over a year before I went public about being trans, so I’d built up a good connection with the audience. Because of that, I saw an opportunity to educate others about what it is to be trans in a very personal way. It was definitely a bit terrifying to put myself out there in such a way, especially not knowing what the reception would be like, but I’m thrilled with how the process turned out. I’ve been getting some truly amazing messages and comments every since I first came out, and I’m incredibly humbled by that.
Your story has reached the world, and also the lives of many trans people. How do you feel knowing that you are now a reference for many people in this community, inspiring them to be who they are?
It’s a bit intimidating! I’ve had a lot of trans people at different stages of their journeys reach out to me since the story aired, and I’m flattered by all the kindness they’ve had to share. I’ve even been able to start working with a few who are earlier on in the process, sharing the little tidbits of wisdom I’ve acquired over the last year. Everyone’s transition is very different, and I’m always careful not to paint with too broad a brush when I’m giving advice, but being in this position is the greatest honor of my life. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I didn’t see a single trans person around me. If I had, I might’ve been able to figure out my identity a lot sooner. Getting to be that visible figure or mentor for others has been the most fulfilling part of my journey.
And finally, how are you now? How is Nora from the present truly feeling?
Right now, my head is still spinning for how far the story traveled. I expected that there might be some local interest in my story from other Iowa news outlets, but this has gone international in a way I could’ve have ever dreamed of. I did an interview with a reporter in the United Kingdom, and I got an email from a supportive viewer in Australia. At one point, the story was at the top of the Uplifting News subreddit, which has 18.5 million subscribers. Needless to say, that’s a lot of eyes. But the reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Now that the immediate excitement is quieting down a bit, I’m focused on getting back to work doing the job I enjoy, talking to Iowans and sharing their stories. I do want to find more ways to use this newfound platform to keep educating others and supporting the trans community. I don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, but I hope that this is just the beginning of something even better
We are very happy to be able to share this story.
You can know more about Nora following her social media: Nora J.S. Reichardt (@Nora_JSR) | Twitter