Valentina Sampaio Becomes First Transgender Model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue [Photos]

The 23-year-old Brazilian model is one of eight rookies for this year’s edition.

Valentina Sampaio just made history by becoming the first transgender model to grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

The 23-year-old Brazilian model broke down the barrier as one of eight rookies for this year’s edition.

“Our goal in selecting who we feature in the SI Swimsuit Issue is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting and multi-dimensional women that we can find,” the editor, MJ Day, said in a statement. “Valentina has been on our radar for some time now and when we finally met face to face it became apparent that besides her obvious beauty, she is an impassioned activist, a true pioneer for the LGBT+ community and just simply embodies the well-rounded woman we are proud to have represent SI Swimsuit across our platforms.”

Even though she already hit a milestone as the first transgender model on an issue of Vogue in March 2017, Sampaio told Vogue she was “excited and honored” to be part of the groundbreaking moment for Sports Illustrated, as it would help bring awareness to the issues her community faces back home.

“Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community globally — three times that of the U.S.,” she said. “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds.”

She also spoke with E! to explain how she hopes the SI platform will help raise awareness.

“I hope that transgender youth and everyone sees within themselves that we are all physically unique, yet all united in a common desire to be accepted and loved as we are,” she began. “The most important thing no matter who you are, is to know yourself. To understand your essence and trust it enough to live it, regardless of judgement and prejudice.”

She added, “Being in the SI Swim Issue, I hope it also gives young women a comforting feeling of acceptance, recognition, freedom and inclusivity when they open the issue.”

The historic moment comes one year after she became the first transgender model to sign with Victoria’s Secret.

The issue out July 21 will also include rookies Lorena Duran, Kim Riekenberg, Brooks Nader, Marquita Pring, Anita Marshall, Hyunjoo Hwang and Jospehine Skriver.

[via TooFab]

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