Tommy Dorfman Explains How Acting and ’13 Reasons Why’ Role Impacted Her Transition: ” I Would Have Transitioned a Lot Sooner”

Tommy Dorfman Explains How Acting and ’13 Reasons Why’ Role Impacted Her Transition: ” I Would Have Transitioned a Lot Sooner”

Tommy Dorfman is discussing her new relationship and how her work on Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why impacted the timing of her transition.

The actress was recently a guest on Rachel Bilson’s Broad Ideas podcast, where she gave an update about her personal and professional life. During the conversation, Dorfman — who divorced from her husband of six years, Peter Zurkuhlen, last year — confirmed she is engaged to a woman, though she did not identify her.

While chatting about her new relationship, she told Bilson, “I fell in love with someone who doesn’t fetishize me,” noting the challenges around dating and relationships for trans people. She went on to describe the relationship as “very affirming.”

But during the conversation, Dorfman also opened up about what her transition experience has been like since she reintroduced herself in July 2021. She compares the experience to her first year of sobriety while explaining that at least part of why she decided to transition only just last year was due in part to her work in Hollywood, and more specifically, her role on 13 Reasons Why.

“I think if I hadn’t booked that job I would have transitioned a lot sooner,” Dorfman explained. “I think because of my work being so tied to my body and face and identity, or whatever [a character] identified as, it delayed some of my growth and some of my maturation in my 20s. I made decisions that were just not aligned with how I really was or what I wanted — but out of fear.”

Dorfman also spoke about how her first year or so since reintroducing herself as a woman has been “very odd and confusing” with every day feeling different — similar to how she felt in that period right after becoming sober in her early 20s. “I think if you’re living with dysphoria, it’s not so dissimilar to living actively in alcoholism or addiction,” she said. “You’re living in a fog. You’re living underwater, basically.

“For me, I always felt like other people had a guidebook for life that I just did not [have],” she continued. “I would always be like, ‘How did you know how to brush your teeth twice a day?’ That’s crazy. Or, ‘You know how to make a bed?’ Or these simple basic human things that were just not available to me. Or, like, emotions. I was like, ‘You feel emotions outside of acting? That’s weird.’ The acting was the only way I could feel things until I started transitioning. Then it was like, boom!”

Dorfman previously said that after beginning to take estrogen in August, something the actress told Bilson her fiancée helped her with early on, she felt “grounded.”

“I can sleep now. I wake up moderately happy. I felt it hit, and I was like, ‘Let’s ride,’” she explained. “And as the testosterone leaves my body, I feel so much better. I’m more energized. I feel how I think I was always supposed to feel.”

Dorfman, who has chronicled her transition on social media, previously said her decision was spurred during the pandemic following a Calvin Klein campaign in New York for Pride. Seeing herself on a “big Lafayette Street billboard” gave her such dysphoria it helped push her toward transitioning.

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