Leyna Bloom becomes first transgender woman to grace Sports Illustrated cover
"This moment is so powerful because it allows me to live forever even after my physical form is gone."
Leyna Bloom has become the first transgender woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Bloom, a model and actress, is one of three women of colour to appear on the cover of this summer's swimsuit edition. Valentina Sampaio became the first trans woman to be included in the magazine last year.
"This moment heals a lot of pain in the world," Bloom said. "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, honoured, and humbled to share that I’m the first trans woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated! [...] 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.
"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, who is half Black half Filipino, began her career in the mid-10s. She publicly came out as transgender after appearing on the cover of Candy Magazine in 2014, and later became the first trans woman of colour to appear in Vogue India.
In 2017, she launched a viral campaign to be cast as the first transgender woman in the Victoria's Secret fashion show. Her commentary on the show led to considerably criticism concerning the lack of diversity in the event which VS has, several years later, addressed in their recent rebrand.
Bloom said that she dedicates her Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover, whom she shares with Megan Thee Stallion and Naomi Osaka 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," she said. "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!"