Tommy Dorfman isn’t coming out, she’s clarifying.
The 13 Reasons Why star talked with the author of Detransition Baby, Torrey Peters, for Time Magazine about privately living as a trans woman for the past year, without formally coming out to the public, and documenting her transition on social media.
Dorfman said she finds coming out “funny,” because she “hasn’t gone anywhere.”
“I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically,” Dorfman said in her interview. “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.”
Dorfman said she has documented her transition on Instagram as a way of letting the world see her transition when she didn’t feel safe enough to formally come out as trans.
“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,” Dorfman 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.”
Dorfman shared how she thought the “older” way of coming out as a transgender woman – disappearing for a few years, and returning to share her new identity – wouldn’t work for her. Rather, she feels as if she’s becoming more of herself, “more Tommy.”
Dorfman will keep her name, Tommy, which was given to her in honor of her uncle who passed shortly after her birth.
“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,” Dorfman said.
Dorfman, and Peters, pointed out how unrealistic the expectation is for trans people to drop off the face of the earth and only return when they’ve finished transitioning, as they can’t afford to put their lives on hold in the midst of their transition.
Dorfman touched on the numerous bills around the country that have been created to specifically target trans youth, and encouraged readers to educate themselves as much as possible, while protesting in any form we find most comfortable.
“I always suggest engaging on a personal level: personalize your activism and advocacy, find the organization closest to you that you can assist,” Dorfman said. “If you don’t feel comfortable using your body to be of service but you have monetary capabilities, do that.”
So what’s next for Dorfman? She expressed how intertwined her personal transition is with her professional life and her fear that she would lose the niche she carved out for herself by playing a “bitchy gay poet” on 13 Reasons Why. She shared how validating it felt to be cast in a female role last year by actress and writer Lena Dunham, and how she’s looking to reflect her trans identity in film and television.
“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.’”