Valentina Sampaio makes history as first ever trans Sports Illustrated model

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.

‘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. 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.’

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.

‘We are deeply moved that Valentina was willing to put her trust in us. 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.