In a personal essay published Monday in Time, actor Josie Totah came out as transgender, saying, “I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female.”

Previously known as J.J. Totah, who stars as Michael Patel on the NBC comedy Champions, Totah said that her pronouns are “she, her and hers.”

Totah, 17, said that she realized that she was transgender while watching I Am Jazz, the reality show starring transgender teen Jazz Jennings.

“I always knew on some level that I was female,” she said. “But it crystallized about three years ago when I was a 14-year-old watching the show I Am Jazz with my mother.”

Totah, who as a child played a recurring role on the Disney Channel's Jessie, said that people assumed she was a “gay boy.”

“Numerous reporters have asked me in interview how it feels to be a young gay man,” she wrote. “I was even introduced that way before receiving an award from an LGBTQ+ rights organization. I understand that they didn't really know better. I almost felt like I owed it to everybody to be that gay boy. But that has never been the way I think of myself.”

Totah said that she didn't correct people's assumptions about her sexuality because she worried she wouldn't be accepted and that fans who knew her “from the time when I acted in a Disney show would be confused.”

She said that she now realizes that hiding her “true self is not healthy.”

“This week, I’m going off to college. I’m also going to continue my acting career, and I am so excited to do both things as myself. I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play. And I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy. I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate – and a new world,” Totah concluded.