Valentina Sampaio has made fashion history again by becoming the first transgender model to be featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
The Brazilian beauty hit headlines last summer when she was named the first openly transgender model to work with lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret in its 42-year history.
And she’s continuing to trailblaze with her appointment at Sports Illustrated. The 23-year-old is one of eight Rookies in this year’s edition, and in a statement released to People, Valentina couldn’t hide her excitement.
“I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news,” she gushed.
“The feeling was surreal. Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It’s a dream come true on so many levels.”
She added that the achievement also caused her to reflect on her past.
“To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity – it is life changing,” she said.
Previous models who have won the coveted Rookie of the Year title include Nina Agdal, Ashley Graham and Kate Upton.
Valentina is hoping her 2020 Rookie appearance will inspire change and progress for other members of the transgender community.
“As a community, each personal success is a step forward for all,” she shared. “I am very grateful to God and all whom have helped me along my journey so far. I honour the challenges of those who have paved the way for me directly or indirectly.”
The 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue drops in the U.S. on 21 July.
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