Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. The Brazilian model will appear in the magazine’s upcoming issue, which will release July 21.
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In honor of making history, Sampaio published an essay on Sports Illustrated’s website thanking the publication as well as raising awareness for trans rights issues in her home country.
“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. Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds,” she wrote.
“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. I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”
In 2019, Sampaio was hired as Victoria Secret’s first transgender model. She’s also worked with Marc Jacobs, Dior, and H&M, as well as appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris, Vogue Brasil, and Vogue Germany.