As the first openly transgender woman to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Leyna Bloom can safely say her modeling career is, well, in full bloom.
The cover is one of three alongside stars Meg Thee Stallion and Naomi Osaka. Bloom was previously announced to be the first trans model of color to appear in the magazine. Meg also became the first rapper to cover the issue.
“This cover and this moment represent what it looks like in the future,” Bloom told Page Six, who announced the news. She also told the publication that she had been texting back and forth with Tyra Banks, who was the first Black model to get a solo cover of the publication.
This is only the latest headline-making gig for Bloom who recently appeared in season three of Pose as Pretentia Khan. The performer found early success within the ballroom scene walking the category of face. She then translated those skills into a modeling career walking for brands like Chromat and Tommy Hilfiger. She’s also done a deal with Dior, appearing in a series of video for the luxury label. She’s also appeared in publications like Vogue India and done advertisements for everyone from Levi’s to H&M.
But she pushed further, becoming the first trans woman of color to lead a film premiering at Cannes Film Festival with Port Authority. The project became her acting debut. She’s followed it up with a recurring role on Pose.
Her second film, Asking For It, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.
“I have dreamt a million beautiful dreams, but for girls like me, most dreams are just fanciful hopes in a world that often erases and omits our history and even existence,” she wrote in a caption about the cover. “This moment is so powerful because it allows me to live forever even after my physical form is gone. Not a lot of people get to live in the future, so at this moment, I’m proudly choosing to live forever.”
“I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present, and future,” she said. The term femme queen in ballroom refers to trans women. Bloom has often pointed back to women like Tanay Pendavis, Onjenae Milan, Tracey Africa Norman, and Octavia St. Laurent as points of inspiration. “This historical moment is important for girls like us because it allows us to live and be seen. Many girls like us don’t have the chance to live our dreams or to live long at all. I hope my cover empowers those who are struggling to be seen, feel valued. Let me be a messenger guiding us to a future of respect and appreciation for all women in all forms and from all walks of life.”
Bloom’s moment with Sports Illustrated comes as the latest in a series of moves aimed at expanding the publication’s idea of sexy. In 2020, Valentina Sampaio became the first trans model to appear in the Swimsuit issue. She returned this year. Bloom marked the second. This year Lewis Freese, a nonbinary model assigned male at birth, made history for their inclusion in the Swim Search.
We love this for Leyna, representation matters.