Teddy Quinlivan has been steadily climbing the ranks to become one of fashion’s most sought-after models since being discovered in 2015. This season, she’s walked for 10 shows that included Monse, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, and Coach and, in the midst of her packed schedule, she’s taking on her biggest role yet—as an openly transgender advocate on and off the runway.
In an interview with CNN Style, the 23-year-old model publicly revealed she's transgender for the first time in a major moment for trans visibility. Quinlivan’s revelation comes as she ranks in the top 20 for runway on models.com and has already stormed the runway for Dior, Maison Margiela, Giambattista Valli, Valentino, Gucci, and other high fashion brands.
Quinlivan transitioned at the age of 16 and, until now, had not told her modeling agency or brands about her gender identity because she’d been lucky enough to be able to blend in as cisgender, a fact that she’s well aware of. “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.’”
With her announcement today, she joins the ranks of other high-profile trans models like Hari Nef, Andreja Pejić, and Casil McArthur. Quinlivan has already gathering praise for her decision, as well. As Marc Jacob said in an email to CNN, "I respect, admire and support Teddy's decision to come out as transgender. Now more than ever it is vital that we pledge our allegiance to the LGBT community and use our voices to encourage and inspire acceptance, equality, understanding and love." Besides Jacobs, GLAAD’s president Sarah Kate Ellis also released a statement, saying Teddy is "sending a phenomenal message to transgender youth by using her personal story to show that transgender women can and should aspire to be whatever they want to be."
For Quinlivan, the decision comes as a risk to her modeling career, but was a necessary step given the political climate we’re facing. As she explained in the interview:
"I've decided to reveal my trans identity because of the political climate in the world right now—particularly in the United States. 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."
You can read the entire interview on CNN Style, here.