Tommy Dorfman, who is best known for her role as Ryan Shaver on 13 Reasons Why, is ready to re-introduce herself to the world. In an interview with Time, Dorfman shares that she’s made a medical transition and is ready to share her story. “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,” she said.
Dorfman, who has been “privately identifying and living as a woman – a trans woman” over the past year, explained that she was done with hiding her journey. “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,” she explained.
“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,” she said. “With this medical transition, there has been discourse about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming.”
To help her navigate her coming out, Dorfman said she looked to other people who have publicly 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,” she said.
Dorfman also explained why she is keeping her name. “I’m named after my mom’s brother who passed away a month after I was born, and I feel very connected to that name, to an uncle who held me as he was dying. This is an evolution of Tommy. I’m becoming more Tommy,” she said.
Dorfman is also ready to stop playing male characters, and that choice, she fears, may have an impact on her career. Ultimately, however, her need to live life authentically outweighed her fears. Right now, Dorfman’s new focus is to “infuse my trans body into film and television. “Lena Dunham gave me my first role as a girl last year—it was so exciting and validating,” she said.
Dorfman also opened up about how her transition is changing her romantic connections as well. “It’s wild to be 29 and going through puberty again,” she said. “Some days I feel like I’m 14. 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. So we’ve had incredible conversations to redefine our relationship as friends.”
For now, Dorfman said she’s looking to a new future, one where she can be her truest self. “All I can do now is look to a future where I am, hopefully, just radically honest. That’s the person I am becoming.”