‘The personal is the political’: Model Teddy Quinlivan comes out as transgender
As the fashion industry bows to pressure to become more progressive with its casting choices, a new generation of models from all backgrounds, cultures, genders and sexualities has taken to the runways. The transgender community — for so long underrepresented in fashion — can today count several fashion superstars in its ranks, namely Gucci muse Hari Nef and fashion week stalwart Andreja Pejić.
Now, in a CNN Style exclusive, model Teddy Quinlivan is publicly disclosing her transgender identity for the very first time.
‘Doing it for myself’
“I’ve decided to reveal my trans identity because of the political climate in the world right now — particularly in the United States,” Quinlivan said. “We made an amazing progression under the Obama administration, and since the new administration took office there’s been a kind of backlash.
“There’s been violence against transgender people — particularly transgender women of color — since before I even knew what transgender was. I just felt a great sense of urgency. I’m very fortunate to be in (a) position (that) I never really thought I would be. It’s really important to take advantage of a time like this.”
With her views on Trump and violence against the trans community, would Quinlivan say that her decision to come out is rooted in politics, or something more personal? “I think the personal is political,” she replied. “It’s political, but I’m also doing it for myself. I was ready to come out, but I think the times we live in elevated the sense of importance and urgency.”
Quinlivan accepts that her announcement may bring a backlash from less accepting corners of the internet — or even negative ramifications for her fashion career.
“I’m definitely a little bit nervous, because I’ve been presenting as cisgender (a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth) for so long,” she said. “Since I transitioned when I was 16, I’ve been living as a cis female … I was very lucky, because I won the genetic lottery — I looked a certain way and my voice hadn’t dropped. That privilege gave me a lot of confidence to walk down the street, date and (work) in the fashion industry, where people I would presume I was a ‘normal’ girl.
‘No role models’
“Hopefully my story reaches people in the same way that the stories of Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have (already) reached trans people. There are not a lot of openly trans people in media, and I think it’s really important to show people that not only am I trans, I’m (also) very successful and good at what I do.”
“The transgender community needs more visibility. And with more visibility will come more acceptance.”