Trans Model Teddy Quinlivan on Coming Out: ‘I Had the Privilege of Looking Cisgender’

teddy quinlivan trans model
credit: @teddy_quinlivan/Instagram

After presenting as a cisgender woman for her entire adult life, model Teddy Quinlivan has decided to go public as transgender.

While other popular trans models like Andreja Pejic and Stav Strashko actually transitioned after the start of their careers, Teddy had a very different path; she had actually fully transitioned by the time she was 16. So when she was discovered by Louis Vuitton two years ago (she’s now 23), nobody gave a second thought to her gender identity.

She told CNN,

“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.”

Teddy has had a hugely successful career already — just this past NYFW she walked for Coach, Carolina Herrera, Diane Von Furstenberg, Derek Lam, Oscar de la Renta, and more. So why risk it all to go public? She said,

“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.”

Of course, by “a time like this,” she means the time of the Trump administration, who notoriously issued a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military despite zero evidence that it would make much difference budget-wise or logistically.

And as a white trans woman of means and with a platform, Teddy is certainly in a position to speak out.

“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.”

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Lena Finkel
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, Tiger Beat, and Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street). She loves all things Real Housewives and The Challenge. When she's not busy binge-watching TV, you can find her taking an absurd amount of photos of her tuxedo cat Tom.