Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio has created history by becoming the first transgender model to feature in the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated(SI) magazine. Sampaio will feature in the upcoming issue, which will hit stands on July 21, the US magazine said on Friday, July 10.
The 23-year-old model was named SI Swimsuit 2020 Rookie and was photographed by Josie Clough on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.
"I am excited and honoured 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," Sampaio wrote on Instagram.
"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," she added.
Sharing her struggles, Sampaio wrote, "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."
Earlier in 2017, Sampaio had created history by becoming the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris. Later in August 2019, she was the first openly transgender model to be hired by lingerie giant Victoria's Secret.
"I feel strong, and I feel inspired to fight, not just for me but for everyone who faces discrimination," the Brazilian model said in a video.
Sampaio's cover is one of the many steps SI has taken in terms of inclusivity. Last year, the magazine featured trailblazer Halima Aden, who made headlines for competing in hijab at her state's Miss USA pageant in 2016. Aden was the first woman to sport a hijab and burkini in the magazine, which has featured supermodels like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks.Also Read: Tamil Nadu Government Relaxes Age Limit For Transgenders Applying For Police Services