'13 Reasons Why' Star Tommy Dorfman Says The Show Delayed Her Transition

Dorfman publicly clarified her gender identity in July 2021 and said in an interview that she had been living as a trans woman for about a year.

After more than a year of living openly as her true self, Tommy Dorfman is reconsidering her Hollywood trajectory.

Appearing on the “Broad Ideas with Rachel Bilson” podcast Monday, Dorfman looked back on her star-making turn as Ryan Shaver ― a cisgender gay teen ― on Netflix’s “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.

“For me, I feel like I kind of got stuck in time for a minute,” the 30-year-old said. “So 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. I’m working.’”

She went on to add: “I think if I hadn’t booked that job, I would’ve started transitioning a lot sooner. I think because my work being so tied to my body and face and identity, and whatever I’d been identified as it delayed some of my growth and maturation in my mid-20s. I also think I made decisions that were just not aligned with who I really was or what I wanted, but out of fear.”

Dorfman publicly clarified her gender identity in July 2021, telling Time magazine in an interview that she had been living as a trans woman for about a year. She was adamant, however, that her announcement not be deemed a “coming out.”

Tommy Dorfman attended the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards in New York this May. <br>
Tommy Dorfman attended the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards in New York this May.
Cindy Ord via Getty Images

“I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically,” she said at the time, before explaining why she wasn’t changing her name. “I’m named after my mom’s brother who passed 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.”

Later in her “Broad Ideas” chat, 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?’”

Fortunately, Dorfman’s friends and professional acquaintances have been accepting, and these days, her career is once again in high gear. She can currently be seen in Lena Dunham’s new film “Sharp Stick,” in which she plays her first female character.

Listen to Tommy Dorfman’s full “Broad Ideas” interview below.

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