The Sports Illustrated 2020 Swimsuit Issue is on its way, and it’s set to feature the first transgender model in the special edition magazine’s 56-year history. Valentina Sampaio, a 23-year-old model from Brazil, stuns as one of eight models in this year’s issue, sporting Triangl and Haus of Pink Lemonade suits and making history at the very same time.
“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,” Sampaio stated. “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.”
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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. ???❤️?
Sampaio’s feature in the iconic magazine is huge for trans models and the trans community as a whole, offering some much needed representation and diversity to the swimsuit catalog. While early editions of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issues mostly feature white, cis models all with the same body type, the swim staple has featured models of color since the late 1960s including Turia Mau of Bora Bora and Maria Jao of Brazil. It wasn’t until 1997, however, that the SI swim issue saw its first Black cover model with a young Tyra Banks dawning a chic polka dot bikini. In recent years, Kate Upton and Ashley Graham offered size inclusivity, opening the magazine up to women of all sizes.
in 1997 Tyra Banks became the first Black woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit edition.
Now, 22 years later, Tyra is coming out of retirement to grace the cover once more ? pic.twitter.com/iCsFhYoFLv
— Dark Gold (@DarkGoldMedia) May 9, 2019
In 2019, Sports Illustrated featured Halima Aden, the first ever model to appear in a hijab and burkini. Now, Sampaio joins the list of beautiful, diverse women making modeling history. “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds,” Sampaio stated. “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.” But in a post announcing that she would appear as one of 2020’s Sports Illustrated rookies, Sampaio thanked SI for seeing and respecting her for who she truly is.
In her featured interview with SI, Sampaio cites her mother and all strong women as her main source of inspiration, embraces her Dutch, African, and Indigenous roots, and discusses how the one historical event she would like to witness would be the Stonewall Riots. Her three wishes in life? “To have love and respect for all humans to live a dignified life with equal rights to exist and flourish; To be seen for the person and woman that I am while living a meaningful life that makes a positive impact in the world beyond my individual self. To create a love-filled family of my own.”
You can find Valentina Sampaio in the 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue online and on newsstands July 21.
Top Photo: Sports Illustrated 2020
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