Valentina Sampaio Makes History as 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Issue's First Transgender Model

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Valentina Sampaio
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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."

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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.” -Valentina Sampaio @valentts Our Instagram channel is a platform for inspiration, inclusivity and support. SI Swimsuit will not tolerate any hateful or offensive comments. Those who violate these terms will be deleted, blocked & reported.

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"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."

Sampaio previously made history as the first transgender model to cover any version of Vogue, wowing on the March 2017 issue of Vogue Paris

Last year, she also became Victoria's Secret's first transgender model and was part of their Pink campaign.

"Never stop dreaming," she wrote on her Instagram at the time.

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