Lone Crusader

Lone Crusader

Model and activist Teddy Quinlivan uses new platforms to prepare the LGBTQ community against its detractors. 

In 2015, Teddy was discovered by Nicolas Ghesquière, creative director of Louis Vuitton. It was a revelation that propels her into the world  of fashion, where she scrolls for the most beautiful houses. In her early days, no one realised that she is a transgender model. In 2017, she decided to claim respect for the LGBT community and declared herself to be transsexual in an interview for a news channel. An act of courage that jeopardised her established relationships with some fashion houses. “Many did not agree, they were not sure if it was the right time to be represented by a transsexual activist. And I, at the same time, did not feel comfortable working with them,” she says.

Her presence on the runways, alongside other transgender or non-gendered models such as Valentina Sampaio, Andreja Pejic or Oslo Grace, is a proof that beauty has no gender. But, since now, fashion and media are becoming more comfortable to deal with gender issues, but a populist negative wave is also spreading to some countries, such as Brazil, where violence against them is increasing. In the United States as well, President Donald Trump’s policy stigmatises the LGBT community. 

Raised in Worcester, a small town near Boston, Teddy knew very early what hatred and ignorance are. Still, in the shoes of a boy, she practised snowboard racing in the mountains of Vermont. It was her way of escaping the abuse she suffered at school. Teddy began her hormonal treatment as a teenager. She convinced her parents that she is basically a woman and hence, they ended up sending her to a girls’ boarding school. At 17, she began her modelling career by moving to New York, where she faced the dark side of the industry.

She was the victim of sexual harassment by some photographers and casting directors. Last year, she used her Instagram account to reveal the story. “I did not expect that during my first season, a casting director could propose to put me on the cover of magazines in exchange for sexual favours, or that a stylist could make me put my hand in the buttocks during a photo shoot or even that a photographer could pinch my breast,” she writes in a message, after the #metoo storm. “Women do not feel confident in this industry. We need a change. But, nothing will happen if the people who work in this industry remain indifferent.”

Teddy is currently living in Paris. She loves her new home in the Marais district. “There is some other feel in Paris. When I lived in the United States, I felt accepted by the LGBT community, but not by the straight community. Here, I feel accepted by all.” 

She says that for now fashion is the right platform to make her voice heard. “When I was young, I wanted to be a spy and work for the CIA and solve difficult cases. Now, I am passionate about journalism. I have started to understand its potential in this era.”

“Many fashion houses were not sure if it was the right time to be represented by a transsexual when I came out of the closet. And I, at the same time, did not feel comfortable working with them.” 

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja

Chitman Kanwar Ahuja is a feature writer at L'Officiel India. She is a silver jewellery hoarder and an aesthete of all arts. You can find her unraveling new stories day in and day out.