On Wednesday, top model Teddy Quinlivan revealed to CNN that he's not the biological female he's presented himself to be to the fashion world, but was born a male and identifies as a transgender woman. Quinlivan made the revelation in between fashion shows during New York's Fashion Week, a paramount event in the fashion world.
"I've decided to reveal my trans identity because of the political climate in the world right now — particularly in the United States," said Quinlivan. "We made an amazing progression under the Obama administration, and since the new administration took office there's been a kind of backlash."
The 23-year-old "is a catwalk and campaign regular," according to CNN, "having walked for the likes of Jeremy Scott, Carolina Herrera and Diane Von Furstenberg at this fall's New York Fashion week alone. Since being discovered by Louis Vuitton's creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in 2015, her career has been in the ascendant."
Quinlivan said he began transitioning at age 16 and has always presented himself as a "cisgender" female, or a woman who was born a biological woman, to the fashion industry.
"I've been presenting as cisgender for so long," he said. "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."
The model said he fears a threat of violent backlash for telling the world he's trans:
"But when you come out as transgender to the world, on a platform, there may be some backlash. People might be violent against me because of something I never chose. That makes me nervous, but I'm really excited to share my story with the world. My optimism outweighs the fear," Quinlivan said.
Quinlivan explained to CNN that he came out as trans at this point in time for both political and personal reasons.
"I think the personal is political," stated the model. "It's political, but I'm also doing it for myself. I was ready to come out, but I think the times we live in elevated the sense of importance and urgency."
Learning of Quinlivan's biological gender, the fashion world has come out in support.
"I respect, admire and support Teddy's decision to come out as transgender. 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," said designer Marc Jacobs.
Additionally, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis applauded Quinlivan for "sending a phenomenal message to transgender youth by using her personal story to show that transgender women can and should aspire to be whatever they want to be."