Tommy Dorfman is coming out. In an interview with the Time 29-year-old ’13 Reasons Why’ star tells novelist Torrey Peters that she is a transgender woman.
“For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman — a trans woman,” Tommy Dorfman says. “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,” she continues. “Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her. My name is Tommy.”
Her name, however, is something that Tommy Dorfman does not plan to change.
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 explains. “This is an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy… I am myself.”
Fans’ reactions to Tommy Dorfman’s Gender
Fans have been speculating about Tommy’s gender identity for about a year, amid a change in her style and appearance in posts to Instagram. Publicly opening up about her identity, Tommy says, is a way to reclaim the narrative for herself.
“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?” she says. “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 narrative,” Tommy continues. “With this medical transition, there has been discoursing about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming.”
While Tommy Dorfman considered a version of coming out where she’d “disappear for two years and come back with a new name, new face and new body,” she ultimately felt like it was something she “couldn’t afford to do,” personally or professionally. Also, she says, “That’s not what I wanted.”
Through coming out, Tommy Dorfman wants to shine a light on gender fluidity — “how fast and dynamic and vulnerable it can be, how it’s an ongoing thing.”
One way Tommy’s journey is ongoing is through her romantic partnerships. Before transitioning, Tommy Dorfman was in a nine-year relationship with a gay man, but she and he have since decided to become friends instead. “It’s wild to be 29 and going through puberty again. Some days I feel like I’m 14,” she says. “As a result of that shift, the types of romantic partnerships I seek out are different.”
“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,” Tommy continues. “So we’ve had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends.”
While Tommy Dorfman says that “transitioning has been liberating and clarifying,” the change to her romantic relationship is just one of the many challenges she’s faced. “There’s a way in which to justify transition, you have to say everything was terrible before,” she says. As she moves forward in this new phase of her life, Tommy says, “All I can do now is look to a future where I am, hopefully, just radically honest. That’s the person I am becoming.”