Leyna Bloom becomes first transgender woman of color to model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

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Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY
·2 min read
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Leyna Bloom is making waves in the latest Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue.

The model became the first transgender woman of color to grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue since the iconic magazine's inception nearly 60 years ago.

Bloom follows in the footsteps of Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, who became the first openly transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model in July 2020.

"This moment is bigger than my wildest infinite dreams," wrote Bloom, who identifies as Black and Filipino. "In this moment, I am a representation of all the communities I grew from, and all the communities I’m planting seeds in."

MJ Day, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit's Editor In Chief, said Bloom was selected "not because of what she represents but because of her beauty, commitment and desire to leave the world a better place."

Valentina Sampaio makes history as first openly transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model

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"Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path that has led to acceptance, love and change," Day said. "She represents every person’s right to love themselves and be who they want to be. We are honored to have her in this year's issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others."

Leyna Bloom attends the NYFW Kick-Off Party on September 5, 2018 New York City.
Leyna Bloom attends the NYFW Kick-Off Party on September 5, 2018 New York City.

Bloom has been breaking barriers in the fashion industry. She became one of the first openly transgender models during New York Fashion Week in September 2017 and was the first transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India in October 2017.

In 2018, Glamour named Bloom as one of the "6 Women Who Are Shaping The Future of Fashion."

"It’s not just in the trans community," Bloom told Glamour. "It’s in my Black community. It’s in my Asian community. I’m the product of deportation and immigration so I’m a product of many different things in our society that I have to use my voice to stand up (for)."

Despite being featured on major runways and publications, her career hasn't come without rejection. In 2018, she unsuccessfully campaigned to become the first transgender woman of color in the once-esteemed Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Sampaio went on to become Victoria's Secret's first openly transgender model in August 2019.

Contributing: Rasha Ali

Sports Illustrated taps 56-year-old, 5-foot-3 model Kathy Jacobs for 2020 Swimsuit Issue

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Leyna Bloom: Sports Illustrated’s first Black, Asian transgender model