Like the flourishing flower she is, model, actress and activist Leyna Bloom has made Sports Illustrated history! Bloom is the first Black and Asian transgender woman to be featured in the magazine’s upcoming annual swimsuit issue, which was first published in 1964.
“This is what it looks like to be in full bloom,” Bloom, a Chicago native, posted on Instagram, following the news. “Thank you @si_swimsuit for allowing me to showcase my heavenly form. My spirit has reached new levels. This moment is bigger than my wildest infinite dreams. In this moment, I am a representation of all the communities I grew from, and all the communities I’m planting seeds in.”
Leyna Bloom first gained recognition in the ballroom community and is now single-handedly changing the world of modeling. In 2017, she made headlines for being one of the few openly transgender models to walk the runway during New York Fashion Week and was the first transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India. Just two years later she was the only transgender model to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week for Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya’s Fall/Winter collection.
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“[Leyna’s] story represents one grounded in resilience and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help her tell it,” a spokesperson for Sports Illustrated wrote in a statement to CNN. “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 that has led to acceptance, love and change. She represents every person’s right to love themselves and be who they want to be.”
More info on this historic moment, via CNN:
Bloom, who is Black and Filipina, is only the second transgender woman to ever be featured in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Last year, Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio became the first. Bloom told CNN Style that being in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue “is an incredible feeling and achievement,” but added “that there’s still so much work to be done for more representation.”
Word. Bloom is absolutely used to making history as she also recently starred in Port Authority, which was the first film starring an openly trans woman of color to be selected by the Cannes Film Festival (2019). The film marked Bloom’s big-screen acting debut, which seems to be just the beginning for the actress who is all about visibility.
“We need to constantly remind ourselves to protect those people in our society that are destined, that are different, that are beautiful uniquely themselves to go out and do what they’re destined to do which is to challenge society to make it better for everyone else,” Bloom said. Bloom ABC’s Juju Chang during her appearance on Good Morning America on Tuesday.
The 2021 SI Swimsuit Edition hits newsstands in July.