Actress and model Leyna Bloom, is forging ahead with her illustrious career, appearing as the first transgender woman on the cover of the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Bloom said that appearing on the cover was a dream she had held since 1997, when Tyra Banks broke new ground as the first black woman to feature solo on the cover of the Swimsuit issue.

The issue that hits the shelves later this week, also breaks new ground for Sports Illustrated, with women of colour gracing all three covers. Joining Bloom is Megan The Stallion and athlete Naomi Osaka.

Bloom, shared an image of the cover on social media, and said: ” 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.”

Bloom’s career began in the New York City Ballroom community and is house mother of Miyake-Mugler. She is no stranger to smashing the glass ceiling of transgender representation. In 2017, Bloom became the first openly transgender woman of colour to appear in Vogue India.

In 2019 at Cannes Film Festival, Bloom became the first transgender woman of colour to appear in a leading role in a feature film in the festival’s history. She is also the only transgender woman of colour to walk Paris Fashion Week, doing so in 2019.

Many lauded Sports Illustrated for what is a huge step forward for a publication, which had in the past been scrutinised for its treatment and objectification of women, and its sidelining of others.

Co-founder of the non-binary underwear company Urbody, Mere Abrams, told The Guardian that Bloom’s cover would help open doors for members of the trans community.

In the interview accompanying the cover, Bloom told the magazine about her dreams for the future: “I don’t want to limit myself. I mean, I want to direct, I’m going to write, I want to produce, I want to maybe one day open a modeling agency for people that just are not the traditional beauties. I might also want to be part of some type of educational system, whether it’s my own school, a starting school, or a college preparatory, or a school based on art and creativity, and identity. We can also build a new curriculum for the reflection of what the world is like right now. That’s important to me: giving back.”

Last year, model Valentina Sampaio had made history by becoming the first trans model to be featured in the pages of the magazine.


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