Cover girl, but the bass in your walk!
Last year, Valentina Sampaio made magazine history by being the first openly trans model in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. Now history is being made again, this time with model Leyna Bloom gracing the cover of this year’s swimsuit issue, becoming Sports Illustrated’s first trans cover star.
“This cover and this moment represent what it looks like in the future,” Blooms told Page Six. “Being a person of trans experience growing up in the world, there was no representation of that [in fashion], so I felt like I could never do this.”
Bloom hails from the South Side of Chicago and was part of the Philadelphia and New York ballroom scenes before modeling in Vogue India and in campaigns for H&M, Levi’s, and hitting the runway for Tommy Hilfiger. She even acted in the 2019 indie film, Port Authority, and was featured in Logo’s Made to Model: Trans Beauty in Fashion documentary.
“This moment is so powerful because it allows me to live forever even after my physical form is gone. Not a lot of people get to live in the future, so at this moment, I’m proudly choosing to live forever,” Bloom wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post when her cover was unveiled.
“I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present and future. This historical moment is important to #girlslikeus because it allows us to live and be seen… This moment is so powerful because it allows me to live forever even after my physical form is gone. Not a lot of people get to live in the future, so at this moment, I’m proudly choosing to live forever.”
The news of Bloom being included in this year’s swimsuit issue first broke back in March. She told the New York Times about getting the call to be in the magazine:
I hadn’t gone to a casting, so when my agent called with the news, I felt mentally shaken. The idea that they were giving me this chance — I couldn’t take it in. Two weeks later I was on set. When we did the shoot, I told them: no bikinis, no strings, no thongs, no nudity. I was going to wear a one piece, that’s what I feel most comfortable in.
Bloom is one of three cover stars for the 2021 swimsuit issue. The other two cover models are Megan Thee Stallion and Naomi Osaka.
“Leyna is legendary in the world of activism, strikingly gorgeous, and has an undeniable sense of self that shines through the minute she walks on set,” explained Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day. “Her story represents one grounded in resilience, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help her tell it. Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path.”
The 2021 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is scheduled to hit newsstands on July 22.