23-year-old Brazilian Transgender model Valentina Sampaio made history on Friday when Sports Illustrated named her a 2020 rookie and the first openly transgender model to appear in the annual swimsuit issue.
Sports Illustrated is an American sports magazine, and was first published in August 1954. Each year Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue features a new set of rookies from around the globe. In its 56 years, the magazine has broken barriers in the modeling industry.
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From Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, to Ashley Graham. Tyra Banks made history as the first Black woman to be on its cover back in 1997. Ashley Graham became the first plus-sized model to snag a cover in 2016. And Halima Aden being the first featured model to wear a hijab in 2019.
History is being made yet again. Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated‘s annual swimsuit issue.
“I was so surprised,” Sampaio told Good Morning America of when she found out she booked the job. “It’s like a dream,” she said, “not just for myself, but for the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Sampaio came from a small fishing village in Brazil, and she has made history throughout her career. She previously made history when she become Victoria’s Secret’s first openly trans model and the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Paris Vogue. She has also worked with brands like Dior, H&M, Moschino, and L’Oréal, and has covered magazines like Vanity Fair Italia and Elle Mexico.
Sampaio has been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ people in her native Brazil, especially the transgender community. She has been supporting Brazil’s trans community for very long, and hopes to shine a light on the issues LGBTQIA people are facing in her nation.
she wrote on Instagram, “I am excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way.”
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I am excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way. I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil. Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world—three times that of the U.S. Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds. We face snickers, insults, fearful reactions and physical violations just for existing. Our options for growing up in a loving and accepting family, having a fruitful experience at school or finding dignified work are unimaginably limited and challenging. 💜🧡💛❤️💚
Talking with People Magazine Valentina told, “I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news. The feeling was surreal,” “Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It’s a dream come true on so many levels. SI has been a deeply meaningful achievement. To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity, it is life changing.”
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Thanking Sports Illustrated She said, “Thank you SI for seeing and respecting me as I truly am. For understanding that more than anything, I am human. Thank you for supporting me in continuing to spread a message of love, compassion and unity for ALL.”
Congrats to this beautiful rising star! The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will hit stands July 21.