Valentina Sampaio continues to make history.
On Friday, it was announced that the 23-year-old Brazilian model had become the first openly transgender model to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Sampaio reflected on the achievement in a personal essay, suggesting it was a win not only for her, but the entire transgender community.
"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," she wrote. "... 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 recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can."
Sampaio previously made history becoming Victoria's Secret's first openly trans model and the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Paris Vogue. She has also worked with brands like Dior, H&M, Moschino, and L'Oréal, and has covered magazines like Vanity Fair Italia and Elle Mexico.
"Thank you SI for seeing and respecting me as I truly am," Sampaio continued. "For understanding that more than anything, I am human. Thank you for supporting me in continuing to spread a message of love, compassion and unity for ALL."
The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue will hit stands July 21.