Zackery Torres was just a child when she first appeared on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, but that didn’t stop her from being bullied, even by adult teachers.
"That was the first time I really understood what it meant to be bullied into dancing a certain way," she told Page Six about making the move to dancing on television. "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."
Because she was the first contestant on the show to be assigned male at birth, the reality star said there was a lot of pressure from others to "dance like a boy," though she’s never been sure what exactly that meant.
"Your guess is as good as mine. Dance is rooted in a lot of historic traditions...it’s something we all just need to be aware of. We all grew up this one way, maybe I was bullied into dancing this way," she said. "But then stop it there. Don’t pass it down to the next generation of young people. If you understand there’s a problem, then let’s fix it."
While Torres said she met "a lot of really amazing people," the bullying got so bad that her mom even commented on how mean she thought the dance teachers were. "There’s a lot of detrimental moments that really kind of set me back as a young person and being on that TV show."
Torres recently announced she’s transitioning and uses she/they pronouns. They had previously come out as nonbinary while earning a BFA in dance from the University of Southern California.
"Life update: I’m transitioning! That means I'm transgender if you didn’t know," Torres announced on TikTok last week. "My pronouns are they/she which means that they or she are totally fine, and I’m just hopping on here to tell you that I’m going to be posting more on TikTok and I’m excited about it and I don’t know why I’m doing all these awkward moves because I’m rusty!"