Valentina Sampaio Becomes Sports Illustrated’s First Transgender Swimsuit Model

This photo taken on October 24, 2016 shows Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio presenting a creation by Patricia Viera during the Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Vogue Paris is to become the first French magazine to feature a transgender model on its cover, according the honour to Valentina …
NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images

Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue as part of the magazine’s attempts to diversify its roster of swimwear models, which in recent years has added plus-size models and a Muslim model wearing a hijab and a modesty swimsuit.

The Brazilian-born Sampaio appears in SI‘s 2020 swimsuit edition that is set to hit newsstands and online July 21. The magazine offered a preview of the transgender star’s photo shoot, which features the model posing in a bikini and a one-piece.

“I am excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue,” Sampaio wrote in an essay for SI. “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.”

She added: “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.”

“I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”

Valentina Sampaio, 23, was the first transgender model to appear on a Vogue magazine cover, in 2017. Last year, the model became the first trans individual to represent the Victoria’s Secret lingerie line.

Sampaio’s inclusion in SI‘s Swimsuit Issue was the brainchild of MJ Day, who edits the annual edition.

“Everything about Valentina is remarkable,” she said in an interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America. “Her incredible beauty, to her strength of character, her bravery, to pioneer this conversation.”

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