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"Dance Moms" Star Zackery Torres Got Candid About How The Show Impacted Her Decision To Transition

"In that environment, I didn't really feel like I was able to grow."

Dance Moms star Zackery Torres is getting candid about transitioning in the spotlight.

Last month, the recent University of Southern California grad and author came out as transgender in a TikTok video — but it wasn't the first time in her life that she had come out.

"I was able to come out for the first time as gay — that was when I was like 15 — and then I think I came out as nonbinary when I was 19 or 20. I can't really remember. And then I came out for the third time — third time's a charm — with being transgender, very recently," Zackery told People magazine.

But despite her ability to now be open about her identity, she says her time on Dance Moms, from ages 12 to 15, forced her to "hit pause" when it came to her feelings about her gender and sexuality.

"In that environment, I didn't really feel like I was able to grow, and so I felt like I just kind of hit pause, and then when I decided to leave the show and go to high school, I realized, 'Okay, I have some growing to do,'" Zackery explained.

She says that on the show, where she was the only contestant assigned male at birth, there were "pressures" and an expectation that she would "contrast" with her counterparts assigned female at birth.

She added that the choreographers she worked with would often perpetuate that stereotype.

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Lifetime / Via youtube.com

"Although I'm sure a lot of them have grown, at the time it was definitely very detrimental, and a lot of pressure for me as a young person to feel, especially on national television," she admitted.

Thankfully, as Zackery has gotten older, she's found a support system that has made transitioning a safe experience for her.

"I think that's probably one of the best parts [of transitioning] ... my circle has gotten a lot smaller, but it's also gotten so much stronger. And I think that that's something that I will never take for granted because I couldn't most definitely not be going through this part of my life without the people that hold me up every day when I can't hold myself up," she shared.

Now Zackery is focusing on advocating for the transgender community, especially through social media and her organization, Continuum Community.

"Pride Month should be all year ... We should always be celebrating and uplifting on LGBTQ+ stories. We have a lot of work to do, and that can't just be done in the month of June," Zackery concluded.

Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out all of BuzzFeed's posts celebrating Pride 2021.

Kevin Valente / BuzzFeed