Model and actress Leyna Bloom is the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. Francois Durand / Getty Images Hide caption
Francois Durand / Getty Images
Francois Durand / Getty Images
Model and actress Leyna Bloom is the first trans person on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, the best-known and best-selling issue of the magazine.
“I dedicate this cover to all of the ballroom femme queens past, present and future,” Bloom said wrote on Instagram. “A lot of girls like us don’t get the chance to live our dreams or live them for long at all. I hope my cover makes those who struggle to be seen feel valued.”
The 27-year-old star on the cover of Sports Illustrated is just the latest on a growing list of barriers she has broken since coming out in 2014: one of the first trans women to step on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week , the first trans woman of color to star in a film at the Cannes Film Festival and the first trans woman to grace the pages of Vogue India.
“This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to emerge as survivors and be seen as full of wonder,” Bloom tweeted.
Three women of color will appear on the cover this year
Bloom appears on one of three swimsuit covers this year and joins tennis star Naomi Osaka and rapper Megan Thee Stallion. All three are women of color: Bloom identifies as Black and Filipina. Osaka is multiracial and has a Japanese mother and a Haitian father. And Megan Thee Stallion is black.
Osaka and Megan Thee Stallion are also making history: Osaka as the first black female athlete and Megan Thee Stallion as the first female rapper to appear in the issue.
Sports Illustrated has been working on making its swimsuits more inclusive over the past several years. The magazine was first published in 1964 and did not include a black cover model until Tyra Banks won a spot in 1996.
Last year, the magazine featured a transmodel, Valentina Sampaio, in the issue for the first time. In 2019, Sports Illustrated featured Halima Aden, a Muslim model wearing a hijab and burkini, alongside soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who was the first openly gay woman to appear in the issue.
“I’ve dreamed a million beautiful dreams, but for girls like me, most dreams are just fanciful hopes in a world that often obliterates and leaves our history and even existence out,” Bloom wrote on Instagram in March when Sports Illustrated announced its inclusion in the swimsuit edition.
The milestone comes amid new bans for transporters
The magazine’s decision to showcase Bloom comes after Republican-led state lawmakers decided to ban trans girls and women from participating in girls and women sports teams. At least nine states have issued such bans despite facing legal challenges.
“In sports alone, so much happens to gender identity and trans women trying to exercise. But having a trans woman as a symbol of beauty in bathing suits on the beach, compared to other icons like Tyra Banks and Giselle and Heidi Klum, is evidence of what is happening in the world right now and what will happen in the future, “said Bloom in an interview with diversity.