Valentina Sampaio, who was the first openly transgender woman to be hired by Victoria’s Secret, is now the first transgender Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model.
On Friday, the 23-year-old Brazilian beauty was named a 2020 Rookie for the upcoming SI Swimsuit issue, which hits stands July 21.
Sampaio — who was born in northeastern Brazil — joins fellow newcomers Lorena Duran, Kim Riekenberg, Brooks Nader, Marquita Pring, Anita Marshall, Hyunjoo Hwang, and Josephine Skriver.
“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.”
Day continued, “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 continued. “That is what we can do as a brand, especially during these uncertain times — support her and celebrate her.”
While speaking to “E! News” on Friday, Sampaio recalled the exact moment when she found out she was going to appear in the iconic magazine.
“The moment my agent, Christiana Tran, from The Lions Talent Management told me, I was blown away by excitement and shock that SI Swim was really going to happen. It was always a dream of mine that was finally coming to fruition,” she told the news channel. “The first thought that came to my mind was this is not only an achievement for me as an individual but for the whole trans community. WE did this! WE are making a change in the world and I am so honored that SI thought of me to be in the upcoming SI Swim Issue.”
Overall, Sampaio says this moment validates the undeniable fact that “we are all human and we all want to be accepted and loved.”
“I hope that transgender youth and everyone sees within themselves that we are all physically unique yet all united in a common desire to be accepted and loved as we are. The most important thing, no matter who you are, is to know yourself,” she added. “To understand your essence and trust it enough to live it — regardless of judgment and prejudice. Being in the SI Swim Issue, I hope it also gives young women a comforting feeling of acceptance, recognition, freedom, and inclusivity when they open the issue.”
Last August, Sampaio made history when she modeled for Victoria’s Secret PINK.
“This represents a victory for society, not just the trans community but for all people who are currently underrepresented in fashion,” Sampaio told Elle.com at the time. “We are experiencing a moment, an evolution, and it is a positive one. Brands are finally learning and catching up to the importance of inclusivity and diversity.”
Congratulations to Valentina on all of your accomplishments!