Valentina Sampaio: First Trans Woman To Be Featured In Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

Victoria’s Secret Transgender Model

Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio has made history with Sports Illustrated’s announcement to feature her as the first openly transgender model to pose for its iconic swimsuit issue (July 21). In its 56-year history, this is the first time that Sports Illustrated has hired a transgender woman as a model. “I was so surprised,” Sampaio told Good Morning America after getting the job. “It’s like a dream,” she said, “not just for myself, but for the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

This is a milestone for the 23-year-old Brazilian model, who had earlier appeared for Victoria’s Secret as its first openly transgender woman model, for a catalog photo shoot last year, The New York Times had reported.

In an essay for SI, Sampaio celebrated the publication for their creation of a “groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way.” She also shared how difficult her path was to achieving success in her modeling career, especially coming from a country known to be dangerous for transgender people.

As per a Forbes report, in 2019, at least 124 trans people were murdered and only eight percent of those cases were closedAccording to 2017 data from the National Association of Trans People and Transsexuals (ANTRA), a trans person is killed every 48 hours in Brazil.

“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 US,” the 23-year-old model and an advocate for the LGBTQ+ people, revealed.


What You Should Know

  • Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio is the first transgender woman model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue.
  • It’s like a dream, not just for myself, but for the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community: Sampaio said.
  • Hailing from a small fishing village in Brazil, Sampaio has also graced the covers of VogueParis, Brazil, and Germany.

Further speaking about her struggle as a trans woman model, Sampaio said, “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to people’s 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,” ELLE reported.

In 2017, Sapiano also became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of French Vogue. She has also graced the covers of Vogue Brazil, and Germany, Page Six reported.

Also Read: Tenzin Mariko, The Monk Who Became Tibet’s First Transgender Model

Inclusion and diversity

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has been celebrating beauty and diversity for decades now. Tyra Banks became the first Black model to grace its cover in 1997. Ashley Graham shone as the first plus-sized model in 2016 and Halima Aden made headlines last year being the first featured model to wear a hijab and burkini.

Feature Image Credit: qz.com

Read More Stories By Ria Das