In an exclusive CNN interview, 23-year-old model Teddy Quinlivan has announced her transgender identity at the finale of New York Fashion Week. Quinlivan’s modelling career rocketed after appearing in a Louis Vuitton show two years ago and, since then, she has worked for the likes of Gucci, Versace and Fendi, identifying herself as cisgender. During the interview, Quinlivan explains her reasons for coming out as transgender, saying that she wishes to endorse ‘acceptance and tolerance’ around the subject of gender identity. She believes this is crucial due to the ‘current political climate’. Perhaps it is the recent anti- trans violence and Trump’s plans to prevent transgender people from serving in the military that has provoked Quinlivan’s ‘great sense of urgency’ with regard to stimulating positive conversation surrounding the trans community.
‘I kind of knew I had to pretend to be male to appease everyone else. At one point I just stopped giving a fuck.’
The model transitioned at the age of 16 after feeling as though she had been playing the role of someone else her whole life. She told CNN that she felt lucky to have ‘won the genetic lottery’, due to the fact her voice did not drop and her figure remained feminine. Quinlivan has also recently released a three-part instagram video explaining her thoughts and feelings at the time of her transition, as well as her attitudes towards coming out as a transgender woman. She explains how she wants to be the role model she never had whilst growing up for those people struggling with their gender identity.
‘I’m a woman first and foremost… I’m a model but I’m also transgender.’
In the past, negative transgender stereotypes have circulated the media. Often transgender people have been made fun of through characters depicted as a bad joke, the victim or the villain of the story. These media representations are hugely influential of the public’s perceptions and only in recent years have these misconceptions of transgender identity been challenged.
Although the number of openly trans people in the media remains small, celebrities such as Laverne Cox (Orange is The New Black actress), Janet Mock (writer and transgender rights activist) and Anreja Pejic (model) are some of the few transgender women who, like Quinlivan, are working to shift the outlook people have on transgender identity and encourage a more positive representation. The fashion industry in particular has the power to create a more stylish and progressive image association with the trans community and it is becoming more and more evident that the fashion industry seeks to promote the fact that there is no definitive way or form of being beautiful.
Quinlivan, despite feeling ‘a little nervous’, is willing to accept that she will no longer be known as a female model and will instead be referred to as ‘the transgender model’. We, as well as Teddy, are looking forward to a time when this will not matter.
Image: Isabel Marant