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Tommy Dorfman talks about 'second puberty' after reintroducing herself as a trans woman: 'I feel so much better'

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Tommy Dorfman is opening up about the personal discoveries she had after starting the medical process of her transition.

In July, the 13 Reasons Why star, 29, reintroduced herself to the world as a trans woman. Now, in a new October cover story for InStyle, the actress reflects on how her perspective on life changed almost immediately after going on hormones.

"Two weeks into having estrogen in my body, I was like, 'Oh.' It felt like I sank into the earth and was grounded. I can sleep now. I wake up moderately happy," Dorfman told the magazine. "I felt it hit, and I was like, 'Let's ride.' 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."

"I spent 28 years of my life suicidal and depressed and recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction," she said. "I don't think I've ever been genuinely happy until this past year. I look at the internet chronicle of photos of me since I started working, and I can see how f**king unhappy I was in every photo. It's wild."

Dorfman, whose creative talents extend to photography — including a November 2019 cover story for Paper magazine featuring Pete Davidson — added that her inner joy was so active during her transition that it became evident to others.

"On my birthday, I ran into a friend who I've known for many years but hadn't seen since the pandemic. I was living as a woman and gave him a big hug, and he was like, 'Um, you used to be so mean. You used to be such a b***h. You're so nice now,'" Dorfman said. "I was like, 'That's really funny. I don't think I was a bitch; I was just really uncomfortable.'" 

While the journey was a joyful one, Dorfman explained it can be daunting watching your body change, especially if you aren't prepared for it.

"I also had never seen a body in transition before, and I think that's a scary thing as a trans person," she said. "It's kind of alien, and it's incredibly autonomous. It's puberty as an adult if you do it at my age — it's a second puberty, and I think you're supposed to go through puberty at an age when you don't remember it because it hurts. It's body-aching and emotionally wonky."

During her transition, Dorfman used her social media platforms to showcase her body's subtle changes in real-time (even though she didn't officially confirm she was trans until July). 

Looking back, she is proud to have had "an opportunity to be of service."

Still, she acknowledged the idea of coming out is different for everyone and the pressure of doing it a certain way shouldn't be placed on queer people — something that became clear when she started transitioning.

"I had a weird amount of shame and internalized transphobia that was keeping me from coming out — not looking perfect enough and not having all my ducks in a row," she said. "I wanted to align my body with my spirit, but I didn't want to disappear for years to do that."

"At the end of the day, there's validity in coming out," she explained. "I don't think queer people should have to do it; it's a burden. I learned quickly that I don't owe everybody all of me, but when I make a choice to talk like this, it's intentional. It's out of a place of growth that will benefit me in the long run and make it easier for me to exist in our industry, in my personal life, and just as a member of society. This is who I am, and now it's up to you to respect me."

If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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