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Trans model Leyna Bloom made history this week. She was one of three models to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s prestigious swimwear issue.
The other two women to feature were tennis player Naomi Osaka and singer Megan Thee Stallion.
— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) July 19, 2021
Bloom becomes the first trans woman to feature on the swimwear issue. She says she can still remember seeing the swimwear issues as a child back in 1997, featuring Tyra Banks on the cover. The swimwear issue often features models on the cover, rather than athletes.
“When they told me I got the cover, I spoke to my dad,” Bloom told Page Six Style.
“I was like, ‘When I was looking at that magazine … I was looking into my future. You were giving me the tools I needed to see myself, to know that I could be there, that I could inspire, that one day I could be a part of this.’”
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Bloom posted a longer reaction to her Instagram, in a caption accompanying the front cover.
“This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder.
“I’m am so happy, honored, and humbled to share that I’m the 1st trans woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated!”
She went on to thank magazine for recognizing the importance of representation, and expressed gratitude to those involved with the shoot.
“I have dreamt a million beautiful dreams, but for girls like me, most dreams are just fanciful hopes in a world that often erases and omits our history and even existence,” she continued.
“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.
“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. Many girls like us don’t have the chance to live our dreams, or to live long at all. I hope my cover empowers those, who are struggling to be seen, feel valued. Let me be a messenger guiding us to a future of respect and appreciation for all women in all forms and from all walks of life.
“I truly believe everything we do and everyone we meet are put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents. We’re all teachers and if you are willing to pay attention to the lessons, trust your positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks, the possibilities are infinite!”
Bloom grew up on the south side of Chicago. She moved to New York City at the age of 17 and was discovered in a store in Soho, which kick-started her modelling career. She has done campaigns for H&M and Levis and appeared in Vogue India.
In 2020, Valentina Sampaio was the first trans model to appear in Sports Illustrated’s swimwear issue. Bloom is the first to feature on the cover.