Valentina Sampaio has smashed yet another barrier. The 23-year-old beauty is now the first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, Vogue reports. "I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news. The feeling was surreal," she tells People. "Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It’s a dream come true on so many levels. SI has been a deeply meaningful achievement. To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity—it is life changing."
Both Sampaio and the swimsuit issue have made history before. The Brazilian was the first trans model to work for Victoria's Secret and the first to make Vogue's cover. As for the swimsuit issue, its first Black cover model was Tyra Banks in 1997, its first full-figured model was Ashley Graham in 1997, and first hijab-wearing model was Halima Aden in 2019, per Bazaar. "Every woman that represents a 'first' does so with the understanding that with the accolades and support that accompanies that title, scrutiny and negativity also follows," says the publication's editor in chief, MJ Day. "The strength and resilience of her spirit and selflessness that [Sampaio] possesses must not go unrecognized." The issue will hit the stands July 21. (Read more transgender stories.)