Des Moines TV reporter Nora J.S. Reichardt has come out as a transgender woman, introducing herself to viewers by saying, “To gradually come into a role where I am feeling more and more at home in my body than I really ever did before has been amazing to get to experience and share with people.”
Reichardt came out Tuesday on WOI’s 6 p.m. news broadcast. A graduate of Drake University in Des Moines, she has been a reporter for the station, an ABC affiliate, since July 2021, originally under a different name and presenting as male, and she began her transition in September 2021. She discussed her journey in an interview with her friend Eva Anderson, a former WOI reporter now with a different station.
Reichardt, now 24, said she began questioning her gender identity when she was in high school in the small town of Hanover, Minn. “It was at a time growing up in a pretty rural area that I didn’t even have the language to describe what I was feeling,” she said.
“Especially early on, it’s hard to place that sense of wrongness — like I’m a person who’s wearing my body and not a person who’s living in it. I thought I was just depressed, I thought I was just anxious. And I’ve had those feelings almost as long as I can remember.” There were times when a day at work felt like “a dress-up day,” she said, noting that she was “telling all my coworkers and the people I was meeting out in the field that I was someone I didn’t really feel like.”
As she went through her transition, there came a time when everyone in her life knew her as Nora except for the WOI audience. “When I made this exact leap of telling the viewers at home that everything was going to be different, that the little name under my headshot is going to look a little different now on air, and I wanted to personally feel as ready as possible to make that jump, because there are expectations that come with it,” she said.
Her colleagues have been supportive, and so have her parents, Reichardt said. “What really stuck with me is when my mom told me that she doesn’t think she’s ever seen me this happy,” she explained. “And I feel the same way. To know that other people are seeing that too —especially my mom and dad, who I love so much; I can do anything as long as I still have them.”
To some people, a loved one’s gender transition can feel like a loss, she said. “But the way I would ask people to reframe that is, you’re getting someone better,” she remarked. “You’re getting some of that that person is so much happier being, and for them to get to share that with you, it’s a magical thing.”
She also reminded viewers that some things haven’t changed. “I’m still very much the person I was before,” she said. “I still know too many Spider-Man facts. I still play a little too many video games for my own good. I still enjoy reading at the coffee shops around Des Moines, which is where you can usually find me on my days off. None of that has changed.”
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