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Sports Illustrated faces vile backlash for Kim Petras’ swimsuit cover

“I think what you do is the most important thing, not what your gender is,” Petras said.

By Emily Maskell

Kim Petras Sports Illustrated cover
Kim Petras Sports Illustrated cover. (Image: Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated)

Pop star Kim Petras made her Sports Illustrated debut as a swimsuit cover model this week.

The German star, who is trans, looks phenomenal in a glittering gold bikini as she emerges from water with her platinum blonde hair.

However, following the cover’s release, Sports Illustrated has faced vile transphobic backlash for featuring Petras.

Several Twitter users have targeted Petras with various anti-trans slurs.

Also, criticism is being levied at Sports Illustrated for championing “trans women instead of biological women.”

“The world is changing and moving forward”

Attitude’s Editor-in-Chief Cliff Joannou has condemned the backlash to Petras’ cover.

“Breaking through glass ceilings is never easy – there’s always an army of people looking to push you back down,” he said. “Last year, Leyna Bloom became the first transgender woman to cover Sports Illustrated. Kim’s cover continues Bloom’s trailblazing moment two years later, this time with the credit of being the first publicly trans woman to land a number one song in the USA. The world is changing and moving forward. But that change has always been met by narrow-minded people who see progress as a threat, who want to silence minority voices and maintain their dominance. In Kim, they have certainly met their match: a trans woman whose incredible voice is as impactful as her no-sh*ts-given attitude. Congratulations, Kim!”

Petras shared in her cover interview that she was “so excited when I got the call to be in Sports Illustrated.

“It’s very iconic, and a lot of very iconic people have done it before, so, [it was a] big dream come true for me.”

Though she was joyous to appear on the cover, Petras noted that she does feel pressure to represent the transgender community.

“I think what you do is the most important thing, not what your gender is,” Petras also added. 

“No matter what your gender or sexuality or any of that stuff is, it’s about what you make of life and it’s about what’s inside of you and all of that, so I hope that can be inspiring to people.”

“I was so excited when I got the call to be in Sports Illustrated”

Petras’ cover sits beside actress Megan Fox and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart – an iconic trio!

Sports Illustrated Editor-in-Chief MJ Day noted: “There is no theme [to this year’s issue] – rather, there is a vision, a sentiment, a hope that women can live in a world where they feel no limitations, internally or externally.”

“But the absence of a theme is not to say that [these women] don’t share certain common traits. They’re constantly evolving.”

Day shared Petras is an “inspiration for the LGBTQ+ community. [She] has blazed her own path to superstardom, but it has been anything but a straight line.”

Petras made history with Sam Smith when the pair won a grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their hit track ‘Unholy’.

Following her single ‘Alone’ featuring Nicki Minaj, Petras’ much-anticipated debut album Feed The Beast will be released on 23 June.