Teddy Quinlivan said she felt it was “crucial” for her to open up about her experience of being assigned a male gender identity as a child, in an interview with CNN and a three-part video she shared on Instagram.
“There’s been violence against transgender people — particularly transgender women of colour — since before I even knew what transgender was. I just felt a great sense of urgency,” she said.
“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.”
“I remember living my whole life as male, but feeling like I was playing a part,” Quinlivan said in the video series.
“I always knew I was female, just in my soul, in my heart, in my brain. I kind of knew I had to pretend to be male to appease everybody else. At one point I just stopped giving a fuck.”
Quinlivan has been presenting as a cisgender female since she transitioned at the age of 16, so the decision to go public about her transgender identity was one that took a lot of thought.
She told CNN that “the political climate in the world right now - particularly in the United States,” led her to decide that it was important for her to reveal that she was transgender.
“I wanted to be the hero that I never had growing up for somebody else,” she said in the video posted on Instagram.
“I always ask myself, if not now, when? If not me, who?
“I feel a deep sense of responsibility to not only myself but to my community. I want to help break the stigma. I want to help push the world forward and help people to think more progressively about this issue.”
Quinlavin’s mother also speaks in the video, sharing thoughts she has for her daughter.
“Remember back when you were a little kid, we used to talk about if someone came in and said you were purple, you would know in your heart that you weren’t purple and that what they were saying was silly,” she said.
“As I’ve always told you, if you’re bold enough and strong enough to be who you really are and to be comfortable with your differences - these are the people who change the world.”
Designer Marc Jacobs wrote to voice his support of Quinlivan in a message she shared on Instagram:
“I respect, admire and support Teddy’s decision to come out as transgender,” he said.
“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. I am so proud to know Teddy.”
Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Louis Vuitton has also shared a message of support.
“Teddy and I met in 2014,” he wrote. “As an exclusive model for Louis Vuitton, we spent months together working on collections.
“When the time came for her to start her career, I was amazed and proud to see how she embraced the fashion marathon with such a fantastic success.
“Today I would like to express my full support and love.”
Makeup artist Pat McGrath said she knew Quinlivan was destined for greatness.
“Over my past three decades as a makeup artist, I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most renowned models of all time - extraordinary women of supernatural beauty; ladies whose names have entered the annals of history,” she said.
“In Fall 2015, I met a young woman named Teddy Quinlivan who instantly transfixed me with her iconoclastic glamour and irrepressible spirit.
“When she told me her plans to share her story and become an advocate for the Trans Community, I knew that she would join that pantheon of women who the world looks to not only for their beauty, but for what they represent - fierceness, fortitude and fearlessness.”