Transexual Model and Activist Teddy Quinlivan Opens Up About Her Journey

Model Teddy Quinlivan shares about her journey as a transsexual model, and denounces the great harassment that exists in the industry.
Reading time 4 minutes

Currently residing in Paris, Teddy Quinlivan dreams of journalism and uses the runway as a platform to support the LGBT community. Now walking for some of the most reputable fashion houses, she was first discovered by the creative director of Louis Vuitton, Nicholas Ghesquière, back in 2015, marking the beginning of her venture into the fashion industry. 

No one knew that Quinlivan was a transgendered model until she revealed it in an interview for CNN network in 2017, as a sign of respect for the LGBT community. This was a courageous and brave act, done at the expense of working relationships she had with some fashion houses. She explains, "Many brands did not agree. They doubted it was a good time to be represented by a transsexual activist. And I, at the same time, did not feel more comfortable working with them. It was a bit like if a boyfriend betrayed me in the back and then left". 



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Bibs and leather sandals, SALVATORE FERRAGAMO

Quinlivan, who has graced many magazine covers and paraded for luxury houses, along with other transgender or gender-neutral models with the likes of Valentina Sampaio, Andreja Pejic and Oslo Grace, show that beauty has no sex. However, while fashion and media industries are becoming more comfortable with addressing gender issues, a populist wave has been spurred in some countries like Brazil, where violence against transsexuals are rising. This can also be applied to the United States, due to Donald Trump's policy that stigmatizes the LGBT community. 

Born in Worcester, a small town near Boston, Quinlivan was no stranger to the hatred and ignorance towards the LGBT community from a young age. When she was still in the shoes of a boy, Quinvilan escaped the ill-treatment she received in school by attending snowboarding tournaments in Vermont. She began hormone treatment in her teenage years and convinced her parents she was a woman, which led to them sending her to a girls boarding school. At 17, she was exposed to the dark side of the modelling industry after beginning her career in New York. 

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Leather mini dress, leather belt and scarves, MIU MIU. Nylon socks, PRADA

She revealed the harrassment she received as a model from some photographers and casting directors in the industry through Instagram last April. Joining many who spoke up through the #MeToo movement, she voiced out her own experiences.  She shared, "I did not expect that, in my first season, a casting director might propose that I appear on the cover of a magazine in exchange for sexual intercourse, that a stylist could put my hand on my butt at a photoshoot or even if a photographer squeezed my breast". "Women do not feel at ease in this industry. We need changes. But nothing will happen if the people who work in the middle remain indifferent", she continues. 

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Open-stitched nylon dress, elastane top, leather skirt and elastane panties, DIOR

She notes, "There's another atmosphere here. When I lived in the United States, I felt accepted by the LGBT community, but not by the straight community. In Paris, I feel accepted by all." 

Currently,  she says that fashion is a good platform for her to voice things out. Also sharing her current opinions on journalism, she explained: "When I was young, I wanted to be a spy and work at the CIA because I like cases that are difficult to solve. At the moment, I'm in love with journalism. I began to understand his potential in this age of fake news, with Trump in power".

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Silkless Strapless Bodice, EMPORIO ARMANI. Woolen trousers, MAISON MARGIELA. Feather hat and leather belt, VALENTINO. Leather scarves, FRANCESCO RUSSO
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Leather blazer, technological fabric trousers and leather belt, GIVENCHY
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Asymmetrical vinyl blouse, woolen gabardine trousers and leather espadrilles, MAX MARA.
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Dress in pleated leather, VALENTINO
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Printed silk dress, neoprene body and rubber boots, CALVIN KLEIN 205W39N


Fashion Edition: Christina Ahlberg; Photos: Jesse Laitinen; Hair: Christos Vourlis; Makeup Department: Mayumi Oda; Photography assistant: Adrien Nicolay; French translation: Géraldine Trole; Translation: Claudia Levron for L'OFFICIEL Brasil

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