Valentina Sampaio Is the First Trans Model to Appear in the ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue

She's raising awareness for trans rights in Brazil and everywhere.

Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio is the first-ever trans model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. One of eight “Rookies,” Sampaio said she’s “excited and honored” to be featured in one of the most iconic magazine issues published every year.

“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 wrote in a personal essay penned for Sports Illustrated, published July 10th.

Sports Illustrated said in a statement to Today that Sampaio is a perfect fit for its Swimsuit Issue, not only because she’s beautiful, but because she’s “ inspiring, interesting, and multidimensional.”

[She] is an impassioned activist, a true pioneer for the LGBT+ community and just simply embodies the well-rounded woman we are proud to have represent SI Swimsuit across our platforms,” the magazine continued.

Data shows that, in Brazil, a trans person is killed every 48 hours, on average—which Sampaio notes is the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world. She wrote that she is “one of the fortunate ones,” after being born trans in northern Brazil, and she wishes to use her platform to bring positive attention to trans rights.

“Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds,” Sampaio wrotein her essay. “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.”

Before gracing the pages of Sports Illustrated, Sampaio appeared on a 2017 cover of Vogue Paris and, in 2018, she became the first trans model for Victoria’s Secret.

Though there is some hate from the announcement on the internet, fans and allies are largely drowning out the trolls with love.

SI announced today, June 13th, that Olivia Culpo, Jasmine Sanders, and Kate Bock will take the cover of the issue that features Sampaio.

Sampaio’s appearance in the Swimsuit Issue, which will hit shelves next month, is a huge step forward for the trans community, and we’re all in for following Sampaio’s career and activism.

Filed Under