'13 Reasons Why' star Tommy Dorfman reintroduces herself as a trans woman

'This is an evolution of Tommy, I’m becoming more Tommy.'
Published July 22, 2021 12:50 p.m. EST
Gizelle Hernandez for TIME Gizelle Hernandez for TIME

In a new profile for TIME – featuring a series of stunning photos taken by Gizelle Hernandez – penned by Detransition, Baby author Torrey Peters, 13 Reasons Why star Tommy Dorfman makes a declaration: "For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman — a trans woman... This is an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy."

But she describes this new change in a different way, explaining, "It’s funny to think about coming out, because I haven’t gone anywhere. I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically. Coming out is always viewed as this grand reveal, but I was never not out. Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her. My name is Tommy."

After being asked by Peters why she's sharing this now instead of letting the transition be implicit, as it has been on Dorfman's social media, the young actor replied, "I’ve been living in this other version of coming out where I don’t feel safe enough to talk about it, so I just do it. But I recognize that transitioning is beautiful. Why not let the world see what that looks like? So I kept, on Instagram, a diaristic time capsule instead — one that shows a body living in a more fluid space. However, I’ve learned as a public-facing person that my refusal to clarify can strip me of the freedom to control my own narrative. With this medical transition, there has been discourse about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming. So, recently I looked to examples of others who have come out as trans. There’s the version I couldn’t really afford to do, which is to disappear for two years and come back with a new name, new face and new body. But that’s not what I wanted."

When it comes to professionally coming out, Dorfman follows in recent footsteps of Josie Totah and Ellliot Page, who both also shared their news in TIME.

For Dorfman, it's a notable moment, because "it’s impossible for me to separate my personal and professional transition, because my body and face are linked to my career. I’m most recognized for playing a bitchy gay poet on a soap opera, and I feared that by actively transitioning in my personal life, I would lose whatever career I’ve been told I’m supposed to have. But I’m no longer interested in playing 'male' characters."

In fact, in her next role, Dorfman will play a woman, in Lena Dunham's upcoming film Sharp Stick, which was an "exciting and validating" experience. She will also be directing an adaptation of Mason Deaver’s I Wish You All the Best, and starring this fall in the Channel 4 limited series Fracture.

Dorfman's transition has also meant a reassessment of her past relationships.

"As a result of that shift, the types of romantic partnerships I seek out are different," she said. "I was in a nine-year relationship in which I was thought of as a more male-bodied person, with a gay man. I love him so much, but we’ve been learning that as a trans woman, what I’m interested in is not necessarily reflected in a gay man. So we’ve had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends. Transitioning has been liberating and clarifying."


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