Tommy Dorfman describes her “irritation and shame” as a male model: “I kept having to say, ‘I’m not a man’.”

纽约,纽约 - 6 月 13 日:汤米·多夫曼 (Tommy Dorfman) 于 2022 年 6 月 13 日在纽约市 Balthazar 参加 2022 年翠贝卡电影节香奈儿艺术晚宴。 (泰勒·希尔/盖蒂图片社摄)
Tommy Dorfman is reflecting on her life, career and gender transition journey. (Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Tommy Dorfman began to really understand the “miserable” years she had experienced in the industry before her transition.

The 30-year-old actress and writer, who came out as a transgender woman in July 2021, recently appeared on Emily Ratajkowski’s podcast High Low with EmRata, where she reflected on her journey to sobriety and discovering her true self, and the lessons she learned from it.

Discussing the years she spent masking her pain and “physical angst” with drugs and alcohol starting at age 11, Dorfman said the experience left her feeling “lost” and “alone” as a 13 Reasons Calvin Klein’s Male Models Became Famous at the Top of Their Game

“I knew I was transgender when I was 6 years old,” she told Ratajkowski. “People asked me what I wanted to be as a child and I said, ‘I wanted to be a girl. I wanted to be a princess. I wanted to be a girl. I wanted to be an actress,’ and it was like, everything was really feminine, and my parents, bless them, were like, ‘Okay. We have a weird kid,’ like, cool. But they don’t know what transgender is.”

Following her role as gay male high school student Ryan Shaver on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, Dorfman said she felt “really caught up” in the role of being the cisgender male “public figure” she was introduced to the world, eventually becoming overwhelmed as more opportunities came her way.

“Literally, I was making money for Calvin Klein, like, as a handsome boy,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing it on a whim, and I’m taking advantage of it. But I was full of [physical] annoyance and shame. I don’t think I’m attractive. I’m kind of confused why I keep booking men’s campaigns for stuff. I keep having to say, ‘I’m not a man.'”

Dorfman has gone on record saying that if she hadn’t booked the Netflix series, she might have been transgender sooner, recalling that she was “suicidal” before choosing to take feminizing hormones and undergo gender confirmation surgery.

“As you know, these careers aren’t promised. It always felt like it could go away at any time,” she said, explaining how the industry she faced accepted her anxiety. “I was really scared. I was like: What will I be like? What will I be like? What if no one wants to work with me? What if I don’t want to work anymore? There were so many unknowns. Like, should I disappear?”

Thankfully, the actress, who divorced her ex-husband Peter Zurkuhlen in 2021 and is now engaged to a woman, says she has found peace by recognizing the happiness she already has in her life.

“I have this husband, I have a house, I have a career, and it’s like, that’s enough, isn’t it? That should have been enough,” she recalls. “And yet, I was suicidal and miserable and had these quarterly breakdowns in terms of gender and was very depressed and, like, I was out [as a gay man] …… I could wear a Tom Brown dress to the MTV Awards. People are embracing it and celebrating it, but I remember talking to a stylist that I wanted to work with and she said, ‘Yeah, I only work with girls.'”

“I remember always wanting to say, like, ‘I’m a girl’ and ‘What you don’t understand is that I need help,'” she explains.

Now, Dorfman, 30, says that after checking herself into rehab at age 21, she is “almost as sober as I was when I used to be” because of the “consequences” of “putting myself in harm’s way” over the years “.

“Any time I was raped or beaten I was affected, and on the one hand, it was like, great, I don’t have the clearest memory of that experience,” she explains of those years. “But on the other hand, I’m not responsible for it. I can zoom out enough that it’s like, oh, if I hadn’t lived with my addiction and alcohol and I hadn’t gone to that drug dealer’s house in Bushwick at 5 a.m., I probably wouldn’t have been in the situation that I was in.”

“There’s a certain amount of shame, but I also have to realize that I’m responsible for this dilemma,” she says, adding that many of these realizations occurred after experiencing what she calls a “spiritual awakening” during her recovery.

“I realized I probably didn’t have anything [in my life],” she says. “I was actually very afraid of being an actress or a writer or anyone creative or anyone who felt unstable. I felt like I was told it wasn’t a good trajectory for me, being an addict.”

“When I started practicing yoga, I thought, I can do this, I can be a yoga instructor,” she says. That dream eventually saved her, as she was encouraged to leave rehab a week early to train to become an instructor. Dorfman says the structural hierarchy helped save her by reminding her that she is – and always has been – in control of her life.

Ultimately, she gave up her yoga dreams to forge a new path for herself in Hollywood, describing her 2021 “coming out” story for Time magazine as one of the most “affirming” experiences of her life.

“It felt really good to take the Band-Aid off,” she said of the experience. “Those pictures are the only pictures I’ve ever seen of myself. …… I remember looking at the monitor that day and thinking, ‘This is me.'”

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