Baltimore resident Londyn Smith de Richelieu hopes her appearance Thursday evening on the WE tv reality show, "Love Thy Sister," will clear up some misperceptions about transgender people.
Smith de Richelieu visits an old friend from her college days -- Ione Rucker, who stars in the show with her two sisters-- in the episode.
Smith de Richelieu and Rucker met while they were college students. At the time, Smith de Richelieu was known as Juan Smith, and attended Morehouse College, a historically African-American, all-male college in Atlanta. Rucker was a student at its sister school, Spelman College.
It was at Morehouse that Smith de Richelieu began identifying as a woman and began hormone therapy. She moved back to the Baltimore area, but remained close to Rucker.
Rucker and her sisters, Ruby and Ellen, are wealthy and beautiful, kind of like the "Real Housewives" of their South Carolina town. The show, which premiered this year, revolves around their relationships with each other, their children and the men in their lives. Ione Rucker is the former wife of retired NBA player Antawn Jamison.
Despite their long friendship, Ione Rucker still thinks of Smith de Richelieu as Juan, and doesn't understand why she needed to transition to a female identity.
"They don’t understand what being transgender is," Smith de Richelieu said of the sisters in an interview this week. "They don’t understand the mental and psychological side."
In the episode, Smith de Richelieu accompanies Rucker to a sex-toy party, where she is told she is not welcome. Rucker stands up for her friend.
"It was a turning point in the friendship," said Smith de Richelieu, who works in fashion.