Valentina Sampaio Makes History as 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Issue's First Transgender Model
By Liz Calvario
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Valentina Sampaio just made history! The 23-year-old Brazil native became the first transgender model in to appear in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue. Sampaio's news and stunning beach-side photos were shared on Friday.
"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," Sampaio said in a statement. "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," she continued. "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 want that one day, this is not important, that this is not new," Sampaio says in a behind-the-scenes video of her shoot. "I feel strong, and I feel inspired to fight, not just for me but for everyone that I represent."