Boston native Theodora "Teddy" Quinlivan got her big break in 2015 when she was discovered by none other than Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton's forward-thinking creative director. Since then, the model's star has risen exponentially: not only is she a regular fixture on the catwalks and in campaigns, but she has also gained recognition for her work championing LGBTQ+ rights.
Quinlivan came out publicly as transgender in 2017, using her role in fashion as a platform to raise awareness on trans rights and to encourage enlightening dialogue, because even though it is a frequent topic in the media, there are few voices with so much volume. Here, she reflects on being transgender in the fashion industry, and who continues to inspire her.
Have you always wanted to be a model?
It was never my dream to be a model because I never thought anyone like me could be one. I wasn't particularly pretty or special, and besides, I'm transgender. I never had any hope of being a model, but here I am.
What kind of reaction did you get when you came out as transgender?
I was very surprised to see how everyone around me supported my transition, and I'm very grateful that so many people have shared how my story changed their perspective on rights and the trans experience.
Who inspired you?
I was inspired by the proud trans women who came before me, such as Brazilian model Lea T and Laverne Cox.
Do you think you're an inspiration to others?
I hope I can be an inspiration to anyone who wants to live a more honest and real life, and this applies not only to trans people, but everyone.
Do you think fashion is open to this movement?
I think fashion is definitely open. There have been many steps the industry has taken to be more inclusive. Trans and LGBTQ+ people are getting more representation than ever. But we have to keep up the fight!