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11 July 2020 12:36

Victoria's Secret Valentina Sampaio Sara Sampaio

Valentina Sampaio makes history as first ever transgender Sports Illustrated model

In its 56 years, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has represented current standards of beauty, which have evolved throughout the decades. From Tyra Banks being the first Black model to grace its cover in 1997 to Ashley Graham being the first full-figured model to do the same nearly two decades later to Halima Aden being the first featured model to wear a hijab in 2019, the magazine has broken barriers in the modeling industry, catapulting the careers of these diverse faces. For its upcoming issue, Sports Illustrated has enacted another first. Valentina Sampaio has been named a 2020 rookie and is the first transgender model to appear in the glossy's pages. Photo credit: JOSIE CLOUGH/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED "Every woman that represents a 'first' does so with the understanding that with the accolades and support that accompanies that title, scrutiny and negativity also follows," said MJ Day, the publication's editor.

Sampaio has been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ people, especially the transgender community, and by garnering this title and the visibility that comes with it, she hopes that it will lead to a greater sense of inclusivity in the zeitgeist. The 2020 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is available from July 21st. Two years later, she was the first openly transgender model to be hired by Victoria's Secret. Now in 2020, 23-year-old Valentina Sampaio continues to break barriers in the modeling industry by becoming the first trans woman to be featured by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Sports Illustrated is a respected brand in the modeling world.

In the 56 years since special edition's first issue, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has produced some of the most successful names in the business. In Sampaio's open essay on what it means to be part of SI, she praises the magazine for creating another issue that champions "a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way." She says she is "excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue." While it means a lot to her to represent SI, she is even more inspired by the significance it has for the LGBTQ community as a whole. Sampaio, who hails from a fishing village in northern Brazil, is using her platform to fight for trans rights. She says that in 2019 alone, 129 transgender people were murdered in Brazil. Beyond that, Sampaio believes it is her responsibility to stand up for Brazil's trans population.

Sampaio says she tries to catalyze change by leading by example and spreading love and acceptance one person at a time. Sampaio expresses her gratitude to Sports Illustrated for helping her inspire a spirit of inclusivity and kindness. Valentina Sampaio is the first trans model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (Picture: @valentts/Getty) Brazillian Valentina Sampaio has had a modelling career full of firsts. From being the first transgender Victoria's Secret Angel to becoming the first ever trans Vogue cover model, she's done so much in just 23 years. The latest of these feats is being featured on the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition, the first trans woman to ever do so.

Valentina shared the news on her Instagram page, saying: '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. 'Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples' hearts and minds. Valentina was also the first trans Victoria's Secret model (Picture: Getty Images Europe) '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.' Editor in Chief MJ Day has been credited with bringing inclusivity to the iconic magazine, featuring plus-size model Ashley Graham in 2016 and hijabi model Halima Aden in 2019. Day said of the casting of Valentina: 'Our goal in selecting who we feature is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting, and multidimensional women that we can find.

'I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil,' she says (Picture: Laurent Vu/SIPA/REX) We didn't think twice about wanting to amplify her voice and message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community.' The Swimsuit Issue has been published by Sports Illustrated every year since 1964, with supermodels like Tyra Banks and Christie Brinkley gracing the pages over the decades. Despite being predominantly a publication that advertises swimwear, over the last few years there's been a focus on looking at issues like the Me Too movement, ageism, and mental health among other things. BRAZILIAN stunner Valentina Sampaio has made history to become the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue. The 23-year-old, who was also the first trans Victoria's Secret Angel, confirmed that she will be part of the historic issue on Friday. 6 Valentina Sampaio has made history to become the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue Credit: Getty Images - Getty The delighted model wrote in an emotional post: "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. 6 The 23-year-old confirmed that she will be part of the historic issue on Friday Credit: Getty Images - Getty 6 Valentina was also the first transgender Victoria's Secret Angel Credit: Getty Images - Getty "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." Sports Illustrated Editor in Chief MJ Day has been praised for boosting inclusivity in the iconic magazine. 6 Valentina said in her emotional Instagram post that 'being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples' hearts and minds' Credit: Getty Images - Getty 6 Valentina grew up in Northern Brazil and was one of seven children in a family of fishermen Credit: AFP or licensors 6 Valentina said when she started modeling she would miss out on jobs because of her gender identity Credit: AFP or licensors MJ said of featuring Valentina: "Our goal in selecting who we feature is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting, and multidimensional women that we can find. "We didn't think twice about wanting to amplify her voice and message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community." The Swimsuit Issue launched in 1964 and has featured numerous world-famous supermodels such as Tyra Banks and Christie Brinkley. Although the focus is on swimwear, the publication has also been looking at ways to highlight issues such as the Me Too movement, mental health and ageism too. We shared how a model hoped to be the first black transgender model on the Victoria's Secret catwalk. In an essay written by Sampaio for the issue, she shared her story of being born in a remote fishing village in Brazil, where trans people are subject to the world's highest rate of violent crimes and murders — "three times that of the U.S." "Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples' hearts and minds," she wrote.