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This is the new normal for Quinlivan, who's one of the modeling industry's biggest stars, but with coming out, she has also stepped into a new role as an activist—and she’s got a lot to say.
As she shakes off the “coming out journey” narrative she’s told (and retold) since September, we sat down with Quinlivan to talk about everything from her Carrie Bradshaw-like dating struggles and the responsibility she’s taking on as an advocate to her unapologetic call-out of the fashion's secret sexual harassment epidemic.
I knew I was trans, but never in a million years thought this was something I was going to have to live through and go through. Especially in this tense political climate where we’re dealing with everything from overlooked murder to what bathroom you can use.
When you’re sitting there at night and smoking your joint and thinking, "Why me? I doubt that anybody would feel comfortable pissing next to me at a urinal. I am the way I am and I didn’t feel like I had to change myself a lot to be feminine but there are some people who do and we need to give them the space to do that. Gender comes in a variety of colors and shades and sizes—the way you choose to express it is your choice and everyone need to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Have you ever considered a career in politics or nonprofit work?
If I can come out to the world publicly on CNN, I can go up to a guy I think is hot and introduce myself.
Yeah, but I don’t think coming out necessarily means you have to be an activist. I wanted to talk about it, educate people and stand up for my community, but I don’t think every single trans person who is out in the public eye needs to do that necessarily.
You’re put in these positions with these stylists and photographers who have so much power over you.
My first Paris Fashion Week when I’d just moved there, this casting director asked me to come back for a fitting and at what I thought was the fitting, he asked me to go on a walk with him.
What has your experience been with this kind of predatory behavior in the fashion industry?
I’m glad you brought that up because this is one of the things I wanted to talk about when I came out. My first nearly 5 years of modeling, I was modeling as a passing, cisgender-presenting woman and that comes with a lot of consequences.