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Tommy Dorfman’s CURRAN Is A New Platform Prioritizing Queer and Trans Joy

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Two years after coming out as trans, Tommy Dorfman is now ready to share her LGBTQ-centered platform, CURRAN.

Although “Curran” means “hero” or “dagger” in Gaelic and Irish origins, at its core, “Curran” is simply Dorfman’s middle name.

“There’s a sharpness and also a mysticism to trans people,” says the actress, writer, photographer, and director who found the coinciding definition of her middle name to be resonant. Not to mention “Curran” is gender-neutral and is used as either first or last names, ultimately mirroring the transcendence of societal norms and trans people’s relationships to them.

As an actor whose fame rose during the infamous 13 Reasons Why Netflix series, Dorfman’s celebrity is a lot like living in a small town—especially now as an out trans woman. “As a public figure, I hid myself a lot,” she explains. “I didn’t want to talk about [my transition] with people I didn’t know or trust really well. And I think that’s not so dissimilar from growing up in a smaller town, where your community isn’t super clear or present.” 

Having grown up in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood, Dorfman is acutely attuned to stories of trans people in small towns—particularly those in the South, a region often squaring changes in modern society with a predominantly conservative, Christian mindset. CURRAN doubles as her attempt to provide the solace people in rural areas might be seeking.

“The sun just came out in the South for some people,” says Dorfman, reflecting on how, during the 2020 presidential election, Georgia flipped from being a red state to a blue one—a major win for small-town queer and trans youth who typically lack the fast access to broader community unlike those in metropolitan areas.

With this year’s passing of Senate Bill 140 – effectively banning minors in the Peach State from pursuing gender-affirming care, the Georgia sun seems to be dimming. This – amid hundreds of similar anti-trans laws sweeping courthouses nationwide. 

“To be trans and to transition is so active and autonomous because you’re claiming agency over your life in a way that cis people will never understand,” Dorfman said. “Us transitioning, taking power over our lives and how we engage with the rest of the world is really threatening to people who have fears around that. And that’s where the phobia comes from; people are afraid to be free thinkers.”

Last fall, Dorfman directed her upcoming directorial debut film I Wish You All The Best, based on Mason Deaver’s beloved coming-of-age novel about Ben, a nonbinary high schooler. Dorfman says this story impacted many of the straight cisgender people in her film crew, who left the job with a greater understanding of the issues LBGTQ people face.

When Dorfman was penning the script on spec, she traveled alone through the Northeastern United States, all while starting hormone replacement therapy.

“I needed to prove to myself that I could do it,” she says. “And I wanted to be alone in my body while it was changing in the beginning.”

It was also on that trip around the Northeast that she started dreaming up CURRAN, wondering what it would be like to have a hub of resources for someone else who might be transitioning alone. Today, the multi-tiered platform aims to be a hub for essential conversations centering the trans and queer community, as well as a bridge to allyship. Dorfman considers sneaking into Atlanta gay bars like Joe’s on Juniper or Blake’s on the Park at 14 as formative experiences, amid a battle with alcoholism. Back then, Dorfman mainly wanted to find people like her, and on her eight-year sobriety anniversary a few years ago, she took to Instagram to describe her struggle—that her relationship with alcohol and drug abuse was masking a person simply “trying to get by.”

This summer marks 10 years of sobriety for Dorfman, and she has a new set of ways to redefine what safe space means for her.  As such, she’s divided CURRAN up into five sections: Intimacy, Culture, Armor, Spirit, and Library. Though the overall CURRAN platform is spearheaded by Dorfman, each section is also led by a diverse, talented roster of queer and trans editors and contributors: Joan Summers,  Amber Later, Michael Love Michael, West Dakota, Sophia Brill, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, Han Schneider, Ty Mitchell, Lukas Dhont, Nora Monsecour, Anika Kaplan, Emily Zhou, and Clark Moore round out the zine’s inaugural issue.  

Intimacy will cover all things sex, bodies, and love, such as pleasure after transitioning or queer sensuality. Culture will reflect on moments of trans and queer pasts, with thoughtful critiques by trans and queer people as it pertains to the present and the future. Armor will be a glamor hub that will consist of tips, tricks and trades such as shoe brands that fit bigger feet, morning rituals, and more. Spirit will be a space to talk about religion and spirituality, from mediumship to ancestry or tarot, and Library will be a literary creative content section, publishing poetry, fiction and even serialized novellas.

From brainstorming CURRAN, transitioning and penning the script for I Wish You All The Best, Dorfman credits that solo trip for allowing her to make friends with her own solitude, even if it is constantly changing. “At times I crave it, and yet in moments of carving out that much time and space for myself I resent myself for doing so,” she said, “It’s always a battle of wills—letting my ego go, putting my hands up and giving into the universe around me.”

It turns out, getting quiet enough to learn something about herself has been to her benefit. Directorial experience aside, Dorfman operates like a camera does, always being in an expansive wide shot. That isn’t to say she doesn’t hone in on the granular aspects of life, too. If anything, she aims for CURRAN to be a place where queer, trans, and nonbinary people can see themselves, ultimately honing in on their own lives.  The platform celebrates a wide, nuanced range of raw, intimate, and vibrant perspectives on queer and trans-forward identity. 

“So rarely do I see people ask queer and trans people about their futures outside of gender—outside of identity,” Dorfman says. “It felt really important to me, that somehow through these stories, [we can] tell people who don’t understand who we are,  by tapping into our different voices.”

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