After 28 years on this earth, Tommy Dorfman can finally say she knows what it's like to be "genuinely happy."
The 13 Reasons Why actress told Ladies First podcast host Laura Brown that beginning her medical transition has done wonders for her mental health. "I just switched my hormones, and I've never felt better in my life," she said, noting that she spent the last "28 years of my life suicidal and depressed and recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.
"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," she remarked. "It's wild."
Part of this newfound contentment comes from the fact that Tommy is living as the woman she always saw herself as. She shared, "Whenever I close my eyes or dream, I see myself as a woman. That was always the case."
Tommy said that when she imagined what she would look like in her later years, she saw a Cate Blanchett-like figure.
More than that, Tommy shared that she's always felt destined to take on a maternal role. "But I really couldn't imagine not being a mother or a grandmother. My spirit was so attuned to whatever it means to be a woman," she explained. "I've walked in the privilege of a male body, but [being a woman] is all I've known on the inside."
Tommy added that there are "so many ways" individuals can transition, but noted that she decided to "only take hormones."
She continued, "Trans women would clock me all the time and be like, 'Hey, girl, what's up?' because it's sort of a thing you recognize."
Though the LGBTQ+ community has been loving and accepting of Tommy's transition, the actress said she didn't expect the same attitudes from more conservative people, including people she grew up with.
Tommy grew up in the NASCAR community because her parents worked in that world. At first, she thought that going public with her transition in July would mean losing contact with those individuals she knew as a child. But when she spoke to her parents, they told her, "'We didn't have time to call you because we were fielding calls.' They worked in the car industry, and they were like, 'These f--king conservatives are so happy for you.'"
"I was like, 'Really? Well, maybe there's a benefit,'" she shared. "So it was nice to get text messages and calls from people I grew up going to NASCAR with or who you would expect to be incredibly conservative and not accepting. But to see me, someone they knew as a child, stepping into this space in a public way helped them wrap their heads around it."
Moving forward, Tommy shared that she hopes to "bring life to women on-screen," an interest she's had since she was younger.
"I went to theater school and would always wish I could portray one of the sisters instead of the boy love interest," Tommy recalled, adding, "I was talking to my other actor friends, and I was like, 'I can't believe I had any kind of career as a boy, because I can't imagine doing that now.' I would love to play a boy again in some capacity, but as a woman."