Sports Illustrated Featured Valentina Sampaio As Their First Trans Model And The Images Are Stunning
She might be listed as part of Sports Illustrated’s 2020 “rookies, but Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio is hardly one herself. In 2017, the model made waves when she became the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris. With appearances on the catwalks of Victoria Secret and appearances for L’Oréal, she’s been breaking barriers ever since.
Now, three years after making her first big splash, the Brazilian model is making waves for Sports Illustrated.
Joining the likes of models such as Tyra Banks, Christie Brinkley and Heidi Klum, Sampaio’s feature on Sports Illustrated makes for another first. As a transwoman, she became the first trans model to appear in its pages and spoke out in an open essay on what it means to be part of the brand.
“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,” Sampaio wrote. “I recognize that I am one of the fortunate ones, and my intention is to honor that as best I can.”
Reflecting on her humble beginnings in a fishing village in northern Brazil, Sampaio explained that she intends to use her growing platform to fight for trans rights.
Writing about the beauty of her home country, Sampaio explained that its lovely visuals are darkened by a backdrop of brutal crimes against the transgender community. “I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil. Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world—three times that of the U.S,” she wrote. In a previous interview with Vogue, Sampaio highlighted that in 2019, 129 transgender people had been murdered in Brazil.
“What unites us as humans is that we all share the common desire to be accepted and loved for who we are,” Sampaio wrote in the essay. “Thank you SI for seeing and respecting me as I truly am. 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.”