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Image / Editorial

Valentina Sampaio makes history as Sports Illustrated’s first trans model


by Erin Lindsay
12th Jul 2020
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Valentina Sampaio is the first transgender model to feature in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue in its 56-year-history


Brazilian-born transgender model Valentina Sampaio made history this week as she became the first trans model to feature in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue in its 56-year history.

Sampaio has joined the ranks of some of the world’s top models, including Heidi Klum, Ashley Graham, and Tyra Banks, in featuring in the swimsuit issue, which is regarded as an institution of the publishing world.

Sampaio is no stranger to making history in her career. In 2017, she became the first trans woman to grace the cover of a Vogue title, while in 2019, she became the first openly-trans model to be hired by Victoria’s Secret.

Sampaio wrote about what the cover means to her in an open essay for Sports Illustrated. In it, she spoke about her platform as a trans model and how she hoped to inspire other trans people in Brazil, which hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against trans people in the world. “I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones,” she wrote, “and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”

Sampaio also thanked Sports Illustrated for the opportunity to feature on the cover, and to spread her message.

“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.”


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