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Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.
Sampaio, who was born in a “humble fishing village in northern Brazil,” is one of eight Sports Illustrated Rookies in this year’s swimsuit edition. Sampaio’s photoshoot was done on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.
“I was so surprised,” Sampaio told “Good Morning America.” “It means a lot, not just for myself but for all the LGBTQ+ community.”
“What unites us as humans is that we all share the common desire to be accepted and loved for who we are,” the 23-year-old Sampaio said. “Thank you SI for seeing and respecting me as I truly am. For understanding that more than anything, I am human. Thank you for supporting me in continuing to spread a message of love, compassion and unity for ALL.”
“To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity — it is life changing,” Sampaio told People magazine. “I honor the challenges of those who have paved the way for me directly or indirectly. They have made where I am today possible. I am committed to keep growing and push boundaries, so that I can in some way, pave the path for others. We are here, we always have been here and we always will be.”
“We are deeply moved that Valentina was willing to put her trust in us and we didn’t think twice about wanting to amplify her voice, her message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community,” MJ Day, editor of the SI Swim Issue, said.
“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,” Day added.
In 2017, Sampaio became the first transgender model to appear on the cover of a Vogue edition in 2017. Sampaio was also Victoria’s Secret’s first transgender model in 2019.
Last year, model Halima Aden became the first woman to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue wearing a burkini and traditional hijab.
Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue goes on sale July 21, 2020.
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I am excited and honored 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. 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. 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. 💜🧡💛❤️💚
Last year Sports Illustrated glamorized the oppression of women and promoted Sharia law by featuring a Muslim woman donning a hijab and burkini.
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit also featured a morbidly obese bikini model last year as part of their new push for ‘diversity.’
Transgenders, the oppression of women and morbid obesity is now being celebrated by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit under the guise of diversity. Let that sink in.