French Vogue Puts Trans Model Valentina Sampaio On The Cover Of March Issue

"She is the absolute equal of Gisele," says editor Emmanuelle Alt.

Transgender model Valentina Sampaio graces the cover of French Vogue next month, a first for the iconic fashion magazine.

“We are living in a world at the moment, what is happening right now, we are stepping back,” says editor Emmanuelle Alt. “Instead of being in a constant evolution, which is what should happen, human rights . . . they’re not going in a good direction. This cover is about the importance of those rights, and that we still need to make progress on an awful lot of stuff.”

The Brazilian stunner, who previously graced the front of Elle in Brazil, appears on the Fashion bible with the caption, “Transgender beauties: How they change the world.” The choice is particular noteworthy—in France, a majority of magazines are sold on newsstands, not by subscriptions.


“She is the absolute equal of Gisele [Bündchen], Daria [Werbowy], Edie [Campbell] or Anna [Ewers],” wrote Alt of Sampaio in her editor’s letter.

“Apart from one small detail: Valentina, the femme fatale, was born a boy. It’s a detail one would prefer not to have to mention, a ubiquitous detail in these women’s lives that they didn’t ask for and a detail one imagines they want to forget. But Valentina is on the cover of Vogue this month, not just for her looks or her sparkling personality, but because despite herself she embodies an age-old, arduous struggle to be recognized and not to be perceived as something Other, a gender exile.”


During the shoot, by veteran lensmen Mert and Marcus, Alt placed the Vogue logo over one of Sampaio’s photos to see how it would look.

“I could see that it was an emotional moment for Valentina; she couldn’t believe it,” says Alt. “She spoke to her agent in Portuguese, and then her agent translated, asking us if it was a trial, or if it was really going to happen, and I said, ‘Yes, it’s really going to happen.’”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.