Brazilian Transgender model, Valentina Sampaio has created history by becoming the first from the community to feature in the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated(SI) magazine.
Photographed by Josie Clough on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands, the 23-year-old model was named SI Swimsuit 2020 Rookie.
The young model wrote on Instagram, “I am excited and honoured 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,” she added.
By being the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris, she created history earlier in 2017. Later in August 2019, she was the first openly transgender model to be hired by lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret.
Sharing her hardships and struggles, she wrote, “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.”
In a video, the Brazilian trans model said,” “I feel strong, and I feel inspired to fight, not just for me but for everyone who faces discrimination.”
Sports Illustrated(SI) magazine has taken many such steps in terms of inclusivity. Last year, the magazine featured trailblazer Halima Aden, who made headlines for competing in hijab at her state’s Miss USA pageant in 2016.
Aden was the first woman to sport a hijab and burkini in the magazine, which has featured supermodels like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks.
The LGBTQ community continues to face challenges even today when everyone ought to be treated equally concerning fundamental and human rights. Valentina Sampaio and many other inspiring personalities are yet struggling to make the community a new normal.