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‘Dance Moms’ alum Lennon Torres details the many transitions of her life since coming out as trans

To celebrate LGBTQ pride this month, TODAY spoke with the former “Dance Moms” star to talk about her life since coming out as transgender in 2021.
Lennon Torres in March 2022.
Lennon Torres in March 2022.Instagram
/ Source: TODAY

For former “Dance Moms” star Lennon Torres, understanding her identity as a transgender woman was a long journey that involved gradual stages of coming out.

“Each coming out was the truest self that I was ready to share with people and also with myself,” Torres, 23, told TODAY. “At each stage, I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, here’s where we’re at for now.’ I really thought that (I) had figured it out. I was so excited each and every time to be like, ‘This is it, this is why I don’t feel quite right in my body.’”

First, at 15 years old, she came out as gay. Later, in college, she met some “really amazing people” who opened her eyes “to what it meant to exist outside of the gender binary.” She came out as nonbinary her sophomore year of college. Finally, while at home with her family during the pandemic, Torres began to have “really honest conversations” with herself and realized she was transgender and identified as a woman.

Torres was grateful for the time at her family's home in Arizona, which allowed her to “soft-launch” her announcement that she was transgender. Her mom and her were filming videos for a company she had started her senior year, and she was wearing a very feminine outfit. She had some makeup on, done her hair a little differently, and this is when she had an aha moment.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, she looks so good,’ just joking around in the mirror,” Torres said, referring to her reflection. “My mom was like, ‘Oh, are we doing “she” now?’ I remember (responding), ‘Oh, maybe, actually!’ We never brought it up again, and then I came out to my family.”

Torres began medically transitioning in March 2021, and since then has been trying to be as honest as possible about the process and what it was like embracing her identity. She publicly came out at the beginning of Pride Month in 2021. She frequently posts on social media, including TikTok videos about her transition, to give visibility to an experience greatly misunderstood by the general public.

At the same time, Torres has been grappling with another major life change: She’s breaking up with dance.

“I've always had a really weird relationship with dance, and I'm still working through it,” Torres said. “It's like a breakup because I don't not love dance and I know dance loves me still ... but at this moment in our lives, we aren't really adding up.”

Torres said that because she spent most of her life training as a dancer, it's been hard to come to terms with the change.

“I trained for over 30 hours a week for a decade and got into one of the most prestigious dance schools in the world and trained my a-- off so much that I kind of robbed myself of a normal college life,” Torres explained.

“There’s all these things that I’m actively looking back now and just realizing that a lot of my fondest memories of dance were when I was receiving positive feedback. That’s a little bit weird and concerning, because it should be the times that you’re dancing and that is what you love.”  

Now, though, Torres loves her new career as an executive coordinator at the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an organization that fights for voting rights.

“I hope to keep working in the industry of politics and advocacy, to really make change,” said Torres, who graduated from the University of Southern California this year with a master's degree in public relations and advertising and a certificate in public policy and advocacy. “Ever since I was little, I never saw myself as someone on the sidelines. ... I want to be in the front and I want to be part of the action.”

Torres also marries dance and politics with a company she established called Continuum Community, which focuses on gender equity and consults with ballet companies, including the New York City Ballet, to create safer spaces for dancers who fall outside the gender binary.

“This is so far beyond anything I ever thought I would be doing,” she said. “My journey is fixing (these environments) so the next young trans kid or gender-queer kid can grow up in the dance industry, and love dance, and not run into those barriers that don't even need to be there.”

In the meantime, Torres is still pursuing dance as a hobby while trying to build a safe environment for others in the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m hoping in the future to keep fighting for what I believe to be the better future ... by just being in rooms that maybe trans people would normally not be in and use my privilege ... to keep fighting the good fight,” said Torres, noting that she has been “one of the lucky ones” able to medically transition in a safe environment with the support of her loved ones.

Torres said that throughout her transition, her family's support has never wavered.

“My dad introduces me as his daughter and (always says) how proud he is of his daughter,” Torres shared. “My younger sister told me I look like I'm finally breathing, which was something that hit me really hard.

“I asked her, ‘What's different from Lennon and Zackery, what's the difference?’ And my sister was like, ‘There isn't any difference. It was always you. I just think Lennon is the version of you that can breathe,’” Torres said. “I just feel happy now, and I think that's the benefit of being able to breathe and exhale.”

During Pride Month, TODAY is amplifying voices from the LGBTQ community. We will be publishing stories, essays and specials throughout June.