Valentina Sampaio Becomes 1st Transgender "Sports Illustrated" Swimsuit Model

Lawrence Kim
July 11, 2020

Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio walks the runway at Sao Paulo Fashion Week in March 2017.

Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated's annual Swimsuit Issue as part of the magazine's attempts to diversify its roster of swimwear models, which in recent years has added plus-size models and a Muslim model wearing a hijab and a modesty swimsuit.

She added: "Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples' hearts and minds". "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".

Of Dutch, African and Indigenous (Amazonian) descent, Sampaio hails from what she refers to as a "remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil". "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".

For years, Sports Illustrated was focused on young, white models but has diversified.

This isn't the first time Sampaio has made history in the modelling industry. In August, Victoria's Secret hired her as its first-ever openly transgender model.

Sampaio, 23, said in a statement that she was "excited and honored" to appear in the issue, which is released on July 21. Today, she went live in an Instagram interview with LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD.

She was photographed for the shoot in Scrub Island, in the British Virgin Islands, Sports Illustrated said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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