Zackery Torres is working to be the transgender representation the Dance Moms alum needed when they were young. The dancer and recent University of Southern California grad, who uses they/them and she/her pronouns, opened up to PopCulture about transitioning in the public eye after coming out to the world as trans late last month, sharing that they want to be as "transparent as possible" with their experience to help the next generation of LGBTQ+ people.
Torres has opened up about their gender journey over the years, but on May 30 posted a TikTok titled "Life Update," in which they announced they were transitioning. "That means I'm transgender if you didn't know," they explained. "My pronouns are they/she, which means that they or she are totally fine. And I'm just hopping on here to tell you that I'm going to be posting more on TikTok and I'm excited about it!"
Torres didn't realize the official update would gain so much attention and told PopCulture they were shocked to start getting texts from friends about news coverage. "I still can’t believe it to be honest," they said, adding, "I was just blown away and feel so loved and supported by everyone around me." That doesn't mean Torres hasn't also been weathering "a lot of negative" and hateful messages, including death threats, but the reality TV alum chooses to focus on the positive people in their life.
It's been a wild ride so far, Torres admitted, saying that while some days they wake up "excited" about being a transgender person in Hollywood, "other days, I wake up and like, 'Am I doing this the right way?'" They continued, "I’ve had a few rough days ... and it gets very overwhelming." Transitioning in the public eye isn't easy, but Torres said they're compelled to be "as transparent as possible" to give an accurate look at what it's like for kids who are exploring their own relationship with gender.
"I think about how little I knew about what it was like to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community," Torres said, looking back on their childhood. While their family has always been supportive, they didn't know enough about LGBTQ+ issues to be a real resource, and Torres thinks so much of their own life could have been positively influenced by "someone being loud, being honest about their journey."
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"When I was younger, I feel like some of the things that were glossed over were the surgeries," Torres explained, adding that while they understand people need privacy, they themselves would "love to be honest with people so it’s easier to find this information." They continued of this societal push towards openness and acceptance, "It’s just hopefully going to hopefully start to make some serious systemic changes."
"I think that my number one priority would be to see more normalcy in transgender representation," Torres continued, citing Peacock's Saved by the Bell casting trans actress Josie Totah to play trans character Lexi on the reboot as a "really good job" of that normalcy. "[Lexi being trans] wasn’t the plot point, and that’s so powerful because our stories as transgender people, they're transgender stories, but they’re also just stories," Torres shared.