More than a trans person: A UH student's passion for advocacy, music and photography for Pride Month

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Friday, June 2, 2023
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June 1 marks the start of Pride Month, and ABC13 reporter Rosie Nguyen sits down with a college trans student who shares his passion for advocating for more gender diversity.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Meet Landon Richie, a 20-year-old political science major at the University of Houston. He's a gifted trumpet player and a 3rd-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Richie also loves photography, poetry, and going to concerts.

"Just doing anything a kid would do in school with my family, with extracurriculars and stuff like that," he said.

But for much of Richie's childhood, he couldn't entirely focus on the things he loves and feels passionate about.

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Richie knew from a very young age that he was transgender.

"As early as I could walk, talk, and really think for myself, I knew that I was in some way different from my peers and those around me. I gravitated towards and felt most comfortable in boys' clothing, playing with boys' toys, and assuming the male role in games," Richie said.

"The feelings persisted and got stronger as I got older. I was not just a tomboy like everybody assumed or how I had even assumed myself because I had no other word at the time to describe what I was feeling. It was just extreme discomfort, " he added.

With limited resources and knowledge, he and his parents navigated a challenging journey before Richie finally felt he could live his authentic life.

"The night that I told them I am transgender, we sat down as a family and cried together. We talked about how I understood myself, how they had seen signs growing up but didn't know what to expect. They were very clear in communicating that they love me, supported me, and wanted to help me be myself, no matter what it took. They were there for every step of the way," Richie said.

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Richie knew not every trans youth has that supportive environment. That's partly what led him into advocacy work, something he first became involved with when he was 12.

Currently, he serves on the board of directors for the GenderCool Project and works with the Transgender Education Network of Texas, aiming to improve gender-diverse equality in the state.

The GenderCool Project is collaborating with ABC to give more insight into the perspective of transgender youth in the world.

"I'm extremely proud of him," Richie's dad, Aaron, said. "I tell people Landon is very passionate about supporting other people and maintaining their well-being. He is very touched by other people's suffering. That's such an admirable quality for any human to have."

"Probably one of the least interesting things about Landon is that he's trans. He's got so many amazing qualities as an individual that I think anyone who gets to know Landon would like him, " Aaron said.

Richie is still determining exactly what the future holds for him. But currently, he has his eyes on a potential career as a civil rights attorney. No matter where he ends up, he knows one thing: He wants to leave the world a better place than how he found it.

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"It's important to recognize that we have always been here and will continue to be here," Richie said. "I hope to leave behind a world more kind and more accepting and more loving of trans people where it is not the outlier for us to thrive. It is the baseline, and we don't have to explain ourselves. We can just be."

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