Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue features first transgender model

Sports Illustrated will feature a transgender model for the first time in it’s swimsuit issue.

Valentina Sampaio was also the first Transgender model to work with Victoria’s Secret.

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NBC News reports Sports Illustrated will feature its first openly transgender model for the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue. Valentina Sampaio was named a 2020 Rookie of the Year for the upcoming issue that hits stands on July 21, marking the first time a trans beauty is featured on the pages of the iconic publication.

“I am excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue,” she wrote on Instagram. “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.”

The 23-year-old Brazilian called on her upbringing to highlight how far she has come, but also to shine a light on the staggering violence against trans women in that part of the world.

“I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil,” she shared. “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.”

According to 2017 data from the National Association of Trans People and Transsexuals (ANTRA), a trans person is killed every 48 hours in Brazil.

“Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds,” she continued in her post. “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.”

In a statement sent to TODAY.com, the magazine said, “Our goal in selecting who we feature in the SI Swimsuit Issue is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting and multidimensional women that we can find.

“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.”