“13 Reasons Why” star Tommy Dorfman comes out as a transgender woman

Tommy Dorfman
Tommy Dorfman Photo: Gizelle Hernandez for TIME, used with permission

Actor Tommy Dorfman officially came out as a transgender woman in a TIME interview today after quietly documenting her transition on Instagram for over a year.

Dorfman rose to stardom portraying Ryan Shaver in the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

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“For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman – a trans woman,” Dorfman said while noting that her “coming out” wasn’t really necessary since she had been posting photos of her transition regularly on Instagram for over a year.

“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.”

Dorfman says she will keep the same name to honor her namesake, “an uncle who held me as he was dying.” She will no longer play male roles.

“It’s impossible for me to separate my personal and professional transition, because my body and face are linked to my career,” Dorfman said. “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 – except for maybe in a ‘Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan’ way.”

“Sometimes you just have to say, ‘No, this is just who I fucking am’.”

She says her relationship with her husband, Peter Zurkuhlen, is evolving as well.

“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,” she said.

“Transitioning has been liberating and clarifying.”

In the past year, actors Elliot Page and Emma Corrin both publicly about their gender journeys as well. Page is a transgender man and uses he/they pronouns while Corrin identifies as queer and uses she/they pronouns.

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