Valentina Sampaio, 23, has become the first ever trans model to grace the pages of American magazine Sports Illustrated’s legendary Swimsuit Issue, following in the footsteps of Heidi Klum, Ashlay Graham and Tyra Banks who herself made history by becoming the first black model to feature in the issue back in 1997.
Sampaio hails from a small fishing village in Brazil, a country where incidences of violent crime against trans people are the highest in the world, around three times of that in the USA.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, the model said, “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.
“I recognise that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honour that as best I can.”
Sports Illustrated hits the news stands on 21st July.