Leyna Bloom Is the First Transgender Woman of Color to Be Featured in ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’ Issue

Leyna Bloom Is First Trans Women of Color in ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’
Leyna Bloom. JULIEN DE ROSA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

History in the making! Leyna Bloom is gracing the pages of the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, making her the first transgender woman of color to be featured in the magazine.

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This monumental casting follows the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2020 issue, in which Valentina Sampaio was the first transgender model photographed for the publication.

“When I was a little kid, being mixed race, I realized that people were being mean to me or giving me privilege based off things I had no control over. When I first started modeling, what I heard the most were, ‘You’re a woman, you’re Black, you’re trans and you’re poor — you’re at the bottom of the food chain,’” Bloom says in a behind-the-scenes video released on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Instagram. “Now people are telling me, ‘You are a beautiful woman, you are a beautiful black woman and you’re powerful trans woman.”

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The clip, which has since received support from the likes of Jasmine Sanders, Kelsey Merritt, Hayley Kalil and Camille Kostek, gives a glimpse into Bloom’s bikinis and one-pieces for the photo shoot. Her looks range of plunging black bathing suits and rust-colored one-pieces to string bikinis with mesh coverups.

“The idea that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has chosen me to be a part of this huge moment tells me that I deserve to be cherished and that what I represent as a woman should never be taken fro granted, regardless of my unique circumstances,” Bloom says in a statement released on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Instagram page.

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The model, who has previously graced the pages of Vogue India, continues: “I feel so lucky to be apart of something that is rooted in change and acceptance. SI Swimsuit supports my womanhood — It’s not just about being beautiful but being beautiful with a powerful message. Being a part of that legacy is a gift to humanity of what we’re creating now to protect our future.”

The decision to include Bloom in the pages of the magazine was multi-faceted. It was history-making move for the publication, yes. But the publication’s editor MJ Day says the casting means much more than that.

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. Her story represents one grounded in resilience and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help her tell it … We are honored to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others. She joins our team, not because of what she represents but because of her beauty, commitment and desire to leave the world a better place.” 

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