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Tommy Dorfman Says She Would Have Transitioned Earlier If Not For ’13 Reasons Why’ Role

The actress spoke to Rachel Bilson about her transition and how it was delayed slightly by her role on the hit Netflix series…

Actress Tommy Dorfman came out as trans just over a year ago in a triumphant spread in Time and is now reflecting on her journey to living openly as her true self. Appearing on the “Broad Ideas with Rachel Bilson” podcast, Dorfman looked back on her star-making turn as Ryan Shaver ― a cisgender gay teen ― on the popular Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Though she’s grateful for the fame and critical acclaim the series brought her, she said she would have begun living as a transgender woman a lot sooner if she hadn’t landed the role

“I think if I hadn’t booked that job, I would’ve started transitioning a lot sooner,” Dorfman said on the podcast. “I think because my work being (sic) so tied to my body and like face and like identity, and whatever I’d been identified as, it delayed some of my growth and maturation in my mid-20s.”

Dorfman said she was cast on 13 Reasons Why at 24, and even then she was combating gender dysphoria. But on the series, which premiered in 2017, Dorfman played a gay, cisgender male, a situation that led her to “compartmentalize” the parts of her that questioned her identity. 

“For me, I feel like I kind of got stuck in time for a minute,” she said of her casting on the show, for which she also expressed gratitude. “When it came to anything around dysphoria or gender or stuff that had already been really present, I was like, ‘nope, that’s not for now.’”

Dorfman also compared the first year of sobriety – she’s been sober since she was 21, she told Bilson – to her first year living as an out trans woman and the milestones she’s reached. Only this time, she said, she’s reaching these milestones very publicly. 

“I felt like I had to do all those things again as a woman,” Dorfman said.” As my body takes a new shape and new form, more organically, like from hormones, I’m then confronted with new challenges.”

Dorfman had privately transitioned a year before her 2021 interview with Time. She called the announcement a “reintroduction to me as a woman.”

Later in her “Broad Ideas” interview, Dorfman also confirmed that she’d recently gotten engaged. Though she didn’t identify her fiancée by name, she shared that she is set to marry a cisgender woman, describing their romance as “very affirming.”

“I knew I was interested in women in a way that I hadn’t really been aware of since high school,” said Dorfman, who divorced ex-husband Peter Zurkuhlen in February after five years of marriage. “I was really scared to admit that I was perhaps attracted to women because I felt I had such safe relationships with all the women in my life because they thought of me as a gay man. In my head, I was like: ’Oh no, if I transition, do I tell people that I might just be a lesbian or bisexual? Are any of my girlfriends ever going to trust me again?’”

Dorfman can currently be seen in Lena Dunham’s new film Sharp Stick, in which she plays her first female character.

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