Valentina Sampiao: First Trans Sports Illustrated Model

Valentina Sampiao is breaking down barriers for the LGBT+ community. She was the first trans model to grace the cover of Vogue Paris, as well as the 2020 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated. She joins the likes of modelling legends like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks. Sampiao was also the first openly transgender to model for Victoria’s Secret.

Sampiao is from a small community in northern Brazil, a country notorious for its poor treatment of the LGBT+ community. She has been using her platform to further the conversation and progress for trans’ rights. Sampiao recognizes that she is in a unique position and can stand up for the trans community in Brazil and around the world. She has spoke openly about the brutal crimes committed against trans people in Brazil. Sampiao also notes that, despite new laws, many people do not abide them, and authorities often don’t even enforce them.

Aside from the potential violence that a trans person can face, in her open essay, Valentina says there are many other obstacles they face on a daily basis. She says that trans people often face “closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds,” and that they endure insults and fearful reactions for simply existing.

Sampaio says that “what unites us as humans is that we all share the common desire to be accepted and loved for who we are,” and she thanks Sports Illustrated for accepting her for who she is. She stresses living with empathy and spreading love, one person at a time. Sampaio believes that she can make a difference simply by leading by example.

Sampaio is trailblazer for all trans in Brazil, and around the world, who wish to follow their dreams, achieve their goals, and be accepted while doing it. As the first trans Sports Illustrated model, Valentina Sampaio is destined to be remembered for using her platform to further trans rights.

You can hear more about the progress of trans and other LGBT+ rights, listen to our conversation with National LGBT+ Bar Association President, Wes Bizzell by clicking here.