After living as a woman for a year, Dorfman opens up about her transition, fears and why she’s keeping her name.
Tommy Dorfman is reintroducing herself.
In an interview with TIME, the “13 Reasons Why” star — who played Ryan Shaver on the Netflix series — opened up about living as a trans woman and her transition for the first time.
“We’re talking today to discuss my gender. For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman — a trans woman,” explained Dorfman, who goes by she/her pronouns. “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.”
While she said “coming out” is usually seen as a “grand reveal,” Dorfman hasn’t been hiding on social media — which she’s used to show “a body living in a more fluid space” throughout her transition.
“With this medical transition, there has been discourse about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming,” she continued. “So, recently I looked to examples of others who have 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 decided that, instead of having her own narrative “stripped” away due to her initial “refusal to clarify,” she came out in TIME. Dorfman said she has no plans to change her name, which came from her late uncle.
“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 explained.
Going forward, there will be changes for Dorfman — in both her personal and professional lives. Tommy has been married to Peter Zurkuhlen since 2016, but explained they’re moving forward “as friends.”
“It’s wild to be 29 and going through puberty again. Some days I feel like I’m 14. As a result of that shift, the types of romantic partnerships I seek out are different,” she explained. “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 added.
As far as her professional life goes, Dorfman said she was nervous about what transitioning would mean — telling TIME she felt she could “lose whatever career I’ve been told I’m supposed to have” after rising to fame as a “bitchy gay poet on a soap opera.” In the future, she’s “no longer interested in playing ‘male’ characters — except for maybe in a ‘Cate Blanchett playing Bob Dylan’ way.”