Valentina Sampaio becomes first transgender model to appear in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue

Valentina Sampaio has made Sports Illustrated Swimsuit history by becoming the first transgender model to appear in the iconic special edition magazine.

On Friday, the 23-year-old Brazilian native confirmed she was named a 2020 Rookie for the publication's upcoming issue, out July 21.

Sampaio reacted to the news on social media in an emotional post.

"I am excited and honored to be part of the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue," she wrote.

"The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way. I was born trans in a remote, humble fishing village in northern Brazil. Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the highest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world — three times that of the U.S.," she continued.

Sampaio concluded: "Being trans usually means facing closed doors to peoples’ hearts and minds. We face snickers, insults, fearful reactions and physical violations just for existing. Our options for growing up in a loving and accepting family, having a fruitful experience at school or finding dignified work are unimaginably limited and challenging."

She also penned an essay on SI Swimsuit’s website, in which she thanked the magazine “for seeing and respecting me as I truly am,” and “for understanding that more than anything, I am human.”

Sampaio has been taking the modeling industry by storm this past year. In August, Victoria’s Secret hired her as its first-ever openly transgender model.

And in 2017, she covered Vogue Paris, Vogue Brasil, Vogue German, and worked with major fashion brands Marc Jacobs, Dior, and H&M.