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Leyna Bloom is Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s first transgender cover star

"Many girls like us don’t have the chance to live our dream."

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude; Image: Instagram, @leynabloom

Leyna Bloom has made history as the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue.

The American model and actress, who cut her teeth in the New York ballroom scene as mother of the House of Miyake-Mugler before breaking into the world of high fashion modelling, is the first Black and Asian-American trans woman to feature on the cover of the world-renowned publication.

Bloom who has previously modelled for H&M, Moschino, Tommy Hilfiger and Vogue India, is one of three cover stars to front the issue, which is themed around ‘Opening Eyes, Speaking Truths and Changing Minds’. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion and tennis pro Naomi Osaka also appear on two separate covers.

Bloom’s cover shoot – shot by renowned American photographer Yu Tsai – comes a year after model Valentina Sampaio became the first trans woman to feature inside the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

A longtime cultural touch point, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was first published in 1964 and has previously seen supermodels including Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Cheryl Tiegs and Elle Macpherson appear on the cover.

Sharing a picture of her groundbreaking shoot on Instagram, Bloom wrote: “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.


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A post shared by Leyna Bloom (@leynabloom)

“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.”

The trailblazing star, who made her feature film debut in 2019 drama Port Authority, continued: “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.

“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!”