This week, another groundbreaking victory for the LGBTQ+ community: actress, dancer, activist and model Leyna Bloom has become the first trans woman of color to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s famed Swimsuit edition.
“This is what it looks like to be in full bloom,” said Bloom, who is of African and Asian-American descent, in an Instagram post earlier today.
“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.”
Sports Illustrated has been making strides in trans representation in the last couple of years. Last year the magazine featured Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio, who became the first trans woman to appear in the Swimsuit edition.
“In this moment, I am a representation of all the communities I grew from, and all the communities I’m planting seeds in,” Bloom continued on Instagram before thanking the photographer and Sports Illustrated.
“Before my feet even touched the sand, you all wanted to celebrate the temple of my body and the deepest part of my spiritual universe. Your kindness has given me so much hope in the humanity of [the] entertainment industry. I thank you for that.”
The coveted Sports Illustrated spot is not the first Bloom has to her credit. She was one of the first openly trans models to appear in New York Fashion Week as well as the first trans woman of color to appear in Vogue India. Bloom has also walked in Paris’s Fashion Week and appeared in a Levi’s ad campaign alongside Naomi Osaka and Jaden and Willow Smith.
“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,” said Sports Illustrated Editor-in-Chief MJ Day to CBS News. “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.”