After having walked in over 150 fashion shows since 2015, including most recently in the New York Fashion Week, model Teddy Quinlivan has opened up about her transgender identity.
"I've decided to reveal my trans identity because of the political climate in the world right now—particularly in the United States," Quinlivan told CNN. "We made an amazing progression under the Obama administration, and since the new administration took office there's been a kind of backlash."
Quinlivan has kept her trans identity private throughout her rise in the fashion industry. Now, more than ever, she believes it's important for her to come out.
"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," she explained.
"I'm definitely a little bit nervous, because I've been presenting as cisgender (a person who identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth) for so long. 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."
Quinlivan believes she is ready for whatever the future may hold for her. "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."
Designer Marc Jacobs openly showed support for Quinlivan, who he's previously worked with. "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."
GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement that Quinlivan is "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."
"I think one of the ways we can help people in the trans community is to give them a platform," said Quinlivan. "And I think the fashion industry plays a very crucial role in that. The fashion industry dictates what's in fashion, what's cool, what's acceptable. It's not just about who's walking fashion shows...it's about who's on every newsstand in the country.
"The transgender community needs more visibility. And with more visibility will come more acceptance."