Valentina Sampaio Just Made History as Sports Illustrated's First Transgender Model

Kimberly Truong

Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio has just made history — again.

Almost a year after becoming Victoria's Secret's first transgender model, Sampaio has now become the first transgender model to be featured in Sports Illustrated.

Sampaio, 23, was named a 2020 Rookie in the magazine's upcoming swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands later this month. In an Instagram post, Sampaio said she was "excited and honored" to be a part of the iconic annual issue, adding, "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," she wrote. "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."

RELATED: Victoria's Secret Hires Its First Transgender Model

Sampaio, who was also the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris, is an outspoken advocate for trans rights, particularly in her native Brazil. Last month, she made an appearance on Pride Live's global livestream event to benefit LGBTQ+ organizations affected by COVID-19.

"Much like in the United States and across the globe, transgender people in Brazil are marginalized," she told Vogue earlier this year. "We are seen as immoral and labeled as 'something' perverted, widely insulted, publicly beaten, and in some cases murdered."

"It is rare to see a transgender person have a public-facing ‘official’ job," she said at the time. "Outside of Brazil, I have had the chance to meet trans people working in a great variety of professions. Salespeople in fashion, cashiers in supermarkets, makeup artists, security, and many other careers. It brings me great happiness to arrive somewhere and feel represented."

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