'Dance Moms' ' Lennon Torres Opens Up About Her Transition One Year Later: 'I'm Happy to Be Here'

"I think the biggest standout is hearing the good that you're doing," Lennon Torres said

Photo: Lennon Monroe Torres/Instagram

Lennon Torres is looking back on the past year in her life since coming out as transgender.

In honor of Transgender Day of Visibility on Thursday, the 23-year-old Dance Moms alum opened up about the ups and downs of her transition journey — and she reflected on where her path to discovering her true self first began.

"I came into this slowly and gradually because of my circumstances. I came out as gay when I was 15 years old," she told E! News. "Then, I was training and working so much that I just didn't have time to sit and think about who I was becoming. So, when I got to college, I had amazing friends who were growing into themselves and I was like, 'Oh, I have some growing to do.' That's when I realized that the he/him pronouns and the identifying as a male was certainly not happening for me, and I came out as non-binary."

She continued, "Non-binary is a very valid identity for everyone who identifies like that. But for me, it was a little bit of a transition period and space for me to experience and understand what it means to not identify with the binary."

But there was one particular moment that pushed Torres — who now uses they/them and she/her pronouns — to realize she was a woman.

"I remember I was doing a video shoot for my company, Continuum Community, and my mom had done my hair differently because I unintentionally started growing out my hair," the University of Southern California graduate said. "I was like, 'Oh, she's kind of looking good right now' and my mom was like, 'Oh, are we doing she?'"

"That got the wheels like turning: 'Oh, she/her. We got some changes make,'" she added. "That was the spark of that conversation that led us to coming out to some closer friends and family."

Torres — who began her medical transition on March 2, 2021 — said "being scrutinized" and "being worried about what others are thinking" has been the hardest part of their journey. And yet, she has experienced many positive moments along the way.

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"I think the biggest standout is hearing the good that you're doing," she said. "I believe in the power of children and the power of the youth. So, when I get messages from parents that are like, 'You saved my kid' or 'You just being yourself is making my kid more confident,' that brings me more joy than anything I've ever done. I do it for young people and for people of all ages who need that boost."

Additionally, Torres pointed out that there are so many different steps you have to go through — "some good, some bad."

"I'm happy to be here," she continued. "But it can be really challenging."

As for what's next, Torres said: "I officially was able to legally change my name, which was a really big deal."

"I'm excited to begin the process of getting all the right legal documentation so I can go out with my friends and debut Lennon Monroe Torres," she added.

Though Torres privately began her transition in March 2021, she later publicized her journey in May. Torres then told PEOPLE about how supported she's felt throughout this process.

"We're in a day and age where I personally feel safe enough and feel that I have a strong enough support system to be as transparent as possible through the trans experience," she said last June.

"It's not always easy and it's not always fun," she continued. "But I want to show as much of it as possible just so that we can continue advancing towards a more open and fulfilling place for the LGBTQ+ community and especially transgender people looking to transition."

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