Valentina Sampaio Makes History as the First Transgender Model to Appear in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue

Marking a big moment for the whole transgender community


Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio has become the first openly transgender model to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, released on 21 July.
In 2017, she was the first openly trans model on the cover of Vogue Paris, and two years later became the first trans model hired by Victoria’s Secret.


A post shared by Valentina Sampaio (@valentts) on

In an essay for the latest Sports Illustrated issue, Sampaio wrote about what this moment means for her and the transgender community: “Being trans usually means facing closed doors to people’s hearts and minds. We face snickers, insults, fearful reactions and physical violations just for existing.” The model showed gratitude to the magazine “for understanding more than anything, I am human. Thank you for supporting me in continuing to spread a message of love, compassion and unity for ALL.”

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editorial was shot on Scrub Island with photographer Josie Clough, and Sampaio called the experience “truly magical from beginning to end”.
Speaking to Today, Sports Illustrated stated: “Valentina has been on our radar for some time now and when we finally met face-to-face it became apparent that besides her obvious beauty, 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.”

Next up, The Year of Digital Runway