The Bachelorette alum Andi Dorfman tells PEOPLE that cousin Tommy Dorfman "has always bravely and boldly lived life by her own terms"

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Andi Dorfman, Tommy Dorfman
Credit: Heidi Gutman/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images; Tommy Dorfman/Instagram

Andi Dorfman is supporting cousin Tommy Dorfman as the actress reintroduces herself to the world as a transgender woman.

The 13 Reasons Why star, 29, publicly discussed her transition for the first time in an interview for Time on Thursday.

"It's funny to think about coming out, because I haven't gone anywhere," Tommy told novelist Torrey Peters for the piece. "I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically. Coming out is always viewed as this grand reveal, but I was never not out. Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her. My name is Tommy."

Tommy's cousin is The Bachelorette season 10 alum Andi, who tells PEOPLE exclusively that she is in "absolute awe of" Tommy's bravery in living her authentic self.

"I'm tremendously proud of Tommy and so happy for the support she's received. Tommy has always bravely and boldly lived life by her own terms and it's something I have always admired and been in absolute awe of," says Andi, 34. "She has stood up for herself and advocated for the entire LGBTQ+ community with pride, with love and, most of all, with compassion for all."

"I know it's been a long and emotional journey," adds Andi, "and I know this is just the beginning for her, and I'm so very excited for her to now be able to live the life she deserves and the life she was truly born to live."

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In the Time interview, Tommy said, "For a year now, I have been privately identifying and living as a woman — a trans woman." Dorfman, who has been documenting her changes in style and appearance for several months on Instagram, explained that she felt the need to publicly address her gender identity in order to maintain control of her own narrative.

"I've been living in this other version of coming out where I don't feel safe enough to talk about it, so I just do it. But I recognize that transitioning is beautiful. Why not let the world see what that looks like?" she said. "So I kept, on Instagram, a diaristic time capsule instead — one that shows a body living in a more fluid space."

"However," she continued, "I've learned as a public-facing person that my refusal to clarify can strip me of the freedom to control my own narrative. With this medical transition, there has been discourse about my body, and it began to feel overwhelming."

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Tommy will not change her name, which she was given in honor of her mother's brother who died shortly after she was born. "I feel very connected to that name, to an uncle who held me as he was dying," she said. "This is an evolution of Tommy. I'm becoming more Tommy."

"I love my name, I want to keep my name and give new life to my name," she added. "I'm really proud of the person that I was, too. I think that's important to acknowledge. I'm proud of who I've been for the last however many years."

The star said that transitioning has been "liberating and clarifying."

On Instagram Thursday, Tommy said she was "especially grateful to every single trans person who walked this path, broke down barriers, and risked their lives to live authentically and radically as themselves before me. thank you to all the trans woman that showed me who i am, how to live, celebrate myself, and take up space in this world."