Valentina Sampaio says she has overcome "snickers, insults, fearful reactions, and physical violations," to become Sports Illustrated's first transgender swimsuit model.
Sampaio, who writes for SI that she was "born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil," will appear in SI's annual swimsuit edition out July 21. She's been on the cover of Vogue Brazil and had a Victoria's Secret campaign last year, and now helps SI take its latest step in including groundbreaking, diverse models on its pages.
In an essay for SI, Sampaio describes how "Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world." "Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples' hearts and minds," Sampaio continues, which often holds trans people back from "growing up in a loving and accepting family, having a fruitful experience at school, or finding dignified work."
"I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can," Sampaio said, thanking SI for "seeing and respecting me as I truly am." Read all of what Sampaio has to say about her big gig at Sports Illustrated.Kathryn Krawczyk