Valentina Sampaio Is the First Transgender Model to Grace Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue

Valentina Sampaio Is the First Transgender Model to Grace Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

Valentina Sampaio is the first transgender model to grace Sports Illustrated‘s annual Swimsuit Issue, proudly making strides for the LGBTQ+ community. Valentina is one of eight “rookies,” i.e. newbies to the magazine, which include Marquita Pring and Josephine Skriver. Her editorial was shot in Scrub Island, BVI, and she wears two suits — this glitter metallic bandeau and a white one-shoulder one-piece — for the gorgeous feature.

“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,” Valentina posted on her Instagram after the news was announced on Good Morning America.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day calls Valentina a pioneer for the LGBTQ+ community and explained, in a press release from the brand, “we didn’t think twice about wanting to amplify her voice, her message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community.” SI has also encouraged Valentina to take the reins on its Instagram platform, where she will have a live conversation with GLAAD about her experience at 1 p.m. ET on July 10.

We hope that this move paves the way for future editorials to expand representation and diversity and that it empowers the LGBTQ+ community, and minorities everywhere, to feel confident in who they are. Even though the fashion industry has a long way to go when it comes to inclusion, this news has us looking forward to July 21, when the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is released everywhere.

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