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Tommy Dorfman re-introduces herself to the world

Tommy Dorfman, the actor who rose to fame in 2017, in the role of Ryan Shaver on the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why has reintroduced herself to the world as a trans woman, and a freshly engaged one at that.

Tommy Dorfman, the actor known best for 13 Reasons Why, approached her journey to become a transgender woman as a slow-burn reveal, of sorts. Akin to a diary entry, you can watch the gradual transformation of Tommy’s transitioning via her Instagram posts throughout the last year.

In a very open and candid interview with Time magazine, in July 2021, Tommy sheds light on the thoughts behind her decision to delay her transition, and the process that eventually led her to reintroduce herself as a trans woman.

Tommy transwoman
Credit: Time, Gizelle Hernandez

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.”

Tommy shared, “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. 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. 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.”

In a recent interview on Rachel Bilson’s podcast, Broad Ideas, Tommy broke the news that she is, in fact, engaged. Although declining to offer up names, the actor did share that her new love is a “cis woman,” and referred to her as “just a gay girl”

Tommy has a busy year ahead. Notably, Lena Dunham has given Tommy her first female role, in her upcoming film, Sharp Stick.

Tommy says of the role, “Lena Dunham gave me my first role as a girl last year—it was so exciting and validating. And personally, 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. 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. Transitioning has been liberating and clarifying.”

Tommy is also set to direct an adaptation of Mason Deaver’s I Wish You All the Best, and is starring in the upcoming Channel 4 limited series, Fracture.