Sports Illustrated to Feature First Transgender Model in Swimsuit Issue

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Brazilian Valentina Sampaio has become the first transgender model to pose inside the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

The 23-year-old has already graced the cover of Vogue, becoming the first transgender model to do so and now has made history in the forthcoming issue of Sports Illustrated.

“Our goal in selecting who we feature in the SI Swimsuit Issue is centered around identifying some of the most inspiring, interesting and multi-dimensional women that we can find," MJ Day, editor of SI Swimsuit, said in a statement. "Valentina has been on our radar for some time now and when we finally met face to face it became apparent that besides her obvious beauty, she is an impassioned activist, a true pioneer for the LGBT+ community and just simply embodies the well-rounded woman we are proud to have represent SI Swimsuit across our platforms."

Sampaio is one of eight "Rookies," meaning models who are included in the coveted issue for the first time, and will be featured alongside fellow rising colleagues such as Lorena Duran, Kim Riekenberg, Brooks Nader, Marquita Pring, Anita Marshall, Hyunjoo Hwang and Jospehine Skriver.

"We are deeply moved that Valentina was willing to put her trust in us and we didn't think twice about wanting to amplify her voice, her message and give her a platform to advocate from on behalf of her personal aspirations and the trans community," Day added. "That is what we can do as a brand, especially during these uncertain times- support her and celebrate her."

"We are all human and we all want to be accepted and loved. I realize I have been very fortunate and I am forever grateful," Sampaio said in a statement to E! News. "I also think it is extremely important to share positive milestones and victories. I advocate for people who face prejudice and are not given the basic level of human rights to exist with minimal dignity. If anything I say or do can plant a seed of love, that is my goal and life's work."

The 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition hits newsstands July 21.

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