Meet The First Transgender Swimsuit Model Of Sports Illustrated

Jul 31st, 2020

Being accepted by the public for being transgender is one of the things that did not happen in the past. But in this day and age, being part of the LGBTQ family (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning or queer) is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something that you should be proud of.

Why. There are so many LGBTQ individuals who have proven to the world that they too can be successful.

One of them is the 23-year-old Brazilian model, Valentina Sampaio. She made the entire LGBTQ community proud when Sports Illustrated announced her to be their very first transgender swimsuit model!

The Brazilian model appears in two stunning bikini photos in this Swimsuit Issue. Sampaio also published a personal essay for the magazine, explaining that she’s “excited and honored” to be a part of this moment. She wrote, “The team at [Sports Illustrated] has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way.

Thank you [Sports Illustrated] for seeing and respecting me as I truly am. For understanding that more than anything, I am human. ”

Sports Illustrated has already shared previews of Sampaio’s photos on their Twitter account. And there is no doubt that Sports Illustrated did the right decision to put her in this cover.

During her interview with the New York Times in 2017, she shared that she was “born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil.” Her country has the highest rate of anti-trans violence in the world, in fact, three times higher than it is in the United States. She was fortunate that her parents and friends were very supportive of her.

Sampaio was discovered by a makeup artist in her teenage years. She was signed by a modeling agency shortly after that. Just like other transgenders, she also faced some prejudice from early clients. But this did not stop her from chasing her dreams.

Sampaio never gave up on her career. She’s been working steadily ever since, proving to everyone that she is worth it. She appeared on runways and on magazine covers like French Vogue.

In her Sports Illustrated “Meet the Rookies” page, the young model expressed a desire to advocate for anyone else who had the same painful experience as hers. When asked what she could advise her 14-year-old self, she said that she’d tell herself to “not feel ‘wrong’ for being who she was born as. To not feel shame or fear of being a transgender.

Aside from this Sports Illustrated cover, she became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris in 2017. And then two years later, Sampaio was the first openly transgender model to be hired by Victoria’s Secret.

Through the years, Sports Illustrated has never failed us with all the women that they featured in their covers. Since 1964, they release a Swimsuit Issue every year. They featured famous models and celebrities like Elle Macpherson, Tyra Banks, and Beyoncé. And for the last five decades and so, they never featured a transgender. That means that Sampaio is the first trans model to appear in the issue’s pages.

Congratulations, Valentina Sampaio!

Meet the Rookies: Valentina Sampaio

— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) July 10, 2020