Tommy Dorfman is living as her true self — and has been for the past year. The 13 Reasons Why star said she now identifies as a transgender woman and uses the pronouns she/her in a new interview published in TIME on July 22,. “For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman — a trans woman,” she told Detransition, Baby author Torrey Peters.
Dorfman said she decided to announce the news after making a medical transition in her journey as a trans woman. However, the actor doesn’t view this as a coming out. “It’s funny to think about coming out, because I haven’t gone anywhere,” she explained. “I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman. 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.”
While she’s now living as a woman, she has decided to keep her birth name, as she still feels a deep sentimental attachment to it. “I’m named after my mom’s brother who passed a month after I was born, and I feel very connected to that name, to an uncle who held me as he was dying,” she said. “This is an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy.”
Taking to Instagram after the interview was published, Dorfman said she was “thrilled to reintroduce myself as the woman i am today,” and thanked the transgender trailblazers that came before her. “I’m especially grateful to every single trans person who walked this path, broke down barriers, and risked their lives to live authentically and radically as themselves before me,” she wrote.
Amid fan speculation of her identity, Dorfman confirmed that she has been documenting her transition on Instagram, calling it a “diaristic time capsule,” and said she wanted to “clarify” the news to her followers. “I recognize that transitioning is beautiful. Why not let the world see what that looks like?” she said. “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.”
While the transition has allowed Dorfman to live as her true self, it’s also affected some huge relationships in her life, including with her husband Peter Zurkuhlen, who she married in 2016. Now, Dorfman said they are friends rather than partners, after her transition changed what she was looking for romantically. “I was in a nine-year relationship in which I was thought of as a more male-bodied person, with a gay man,” she explained. “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.”
Now, Dorfman is hoping to continue her acting career solely as a woman, crediting Lena Dunham for giving her her first female role in the Girls star’s upcoming film Sharp Stick. “I’m most recognized for playing a bitchy gay poet on a soap opera,” she said, referring to her former role as Ryan Shaver on 13RW. “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 — except for maybe in a ‘Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan’ way. Sometimes you just have to say, ‘No, this is just who I f*cking am.’”