Dancer Zackery Torres — who recently came out as transgender and uses she/they pronouns — is bravely speaking out against the bullying she endured while filming reality TV.
The University of Southern California graduate made history on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition as the show’s first male-born contestant. Following their appearance on the series, they went on to compete as a member of the Candy Apples team on Dance Moms.
“That was the first time I really understood what it meant to be bullied into dancing a certain way,” Torres said of transitioning from dancing in private studios to dancing competitively on TV.
She continued: “I don’t really know whose fault it is. I think we have the system to blame, and I think that it’s something we all need to be aware of and continue speaking out about.”
The bubbly brunette didn’t give exact names on who tormented her during her younger years, but did admit that at the time the behavior from the other dancers and instructors was “crazy.”
The 22-year-old explained that her mom was “shocked” at what was happening behind the scenes of the dance competition series. “That’s always what threw her off, like, ‘These people are kind of mean,'” Torres recalled her mom saying at the time.
Torres bravely detailed the heartbreaking times she was told to “dance like a boy” and not to be so feminine. Although, at such a young age, she had no clue what it meant.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” she said. “Dance is rooted in a lot of historic traditions... It’s something that we all just need to be aware of. We all grew up this one way, maybe I was bullied into dancing this way... but then stop it there, don’t pass it down to the next generation of young people.”
She concluded: “If you understand there’s a problem, then let’s fix it.”
In an adorable video posted to social media late last month, Torres revealed they are transgender and in the process of transition.
“I realized I haven’t posted on TikTok, anything of myself since like December,” the dancer explained on Sunday, May 30. “Life update, I’m transitioning.”
Torres continued: “That means I’m transgender if you didn’t know. My pronouns are they/she, which means that they or she are totally fine, and I’m hopping on here to tell you that I’m going to be posting more on TikTok and I’m excited about it!”
Page Six was the first to report on Torres being bullied.