The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is becoming more and more inclusive year after year, and Leyna Bloom just made history as the first openly transgender model to appear on the cover.
The 27-year-old model and activist was announced as a 2021 rookie of the magazine back in March and graces one of three special covers wearing a white one-piece swimsuit.
“This cover and this moment represent what it looks like in the future,” she 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. I think it was just putting myself out there, knowing that I was born in a world I didn’t fit in, so I have to create one that I do.”
She continued: “I just wanted to be seen in the world and let people know that people like me do exist and we are beautiful.”
“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 wrote on Instagram, revealing the cover image. “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 credits this historic moment to the trans women that blazed the trail before her and dedicates it to all those who are still struggling to be seen. “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,” her post continued.
“I hope my cover empowers those who are struggling to be seen to 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.” Bloom is just the second transgender model to ever be featured in the Swimsuit Issue; she follows Valentina Sampaio, who appeared in the 2020 issue.
But Bloom’s representation goes beyond the trans community. She is also of Black and Asian descent. I am an embodiment of many different intersections of life,” she told Yahoo. “When we put our phones down and we go out in the world, you see police brutality on the backs of Black and brown bodies. You see Asian people being hurt, being bullied, being harassed. You see trans bodies showing up in alleys dead, you know, it’s cold case after cold case.”
She continued: “These are very, very serious topics. And when you take someone that represents all of that and say, we’re putting this person on the cover, because this is what we think is important, not just beautiful, it really allows us to know that there is still good in the world.”
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue editor-in-chief MJ Day called Bloom’s cover a “culmination of our powerful community coming together.” Leyna Bloom is one of three cover stars this year; she is joined by Naomi Osaka and Megan Thee Stallion, who each have their separate covers.
“If there’s one thing that our cover models have in common, it’s that they don’t have one thing in common. They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms,” Day said of the revolutionized Swimsuit Issue.
“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,” Day continued. “We are honored to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others.”
The 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue hits stands on July 22.