Leyna Bloom Makes History in ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Issue

Bloom becomes the first Black trans woman to appear in Sports Illustrated.

HomoCulture Gay Culture Triston Brewer

This article was published on April 6th, 2021

Leyna Bloom has made history!

The model has become the first Black and Asian transgender woman to be featured in a Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated, which hits newsstands in July. The American first made headlines whens he starred in the movie Port Authority, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Sports Illustrated issued a statement about the news, praising Bloom’s “undeniable sense of self that shines through the minute she walks on set.” 

The native from Chicago, who identifies as Black and Filipina, was selected by the magazine “not because of what she represents but because of her beauty, commitment and desire to leave the world a better place,” according to MJ Day, the editor-in-chief of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. 

According to Bloom’s IMDb page, the model was confronted with homelessness when initially moving to New York City from Chicago as a teenager, but maneuvered through the city by surviving on cash prizes won thorugh voguing in Harlem in the underground ballroom scene. She first came to prominence in 2017, becoming one of the few openly trans models to walk the runways at New York Fashion Week.

Less than two years later, Bloom became the only transgender model to walk at Paris Fashion Week for Tommy Hilfiger x Zendaya’s Fall/Winter collection. The series of firsts continued for Bloom, who became at the time the first openly trans woman of color to appear in Vogue India, according to Out magazine.

Sports Illustrated has had a significant number of firsts in modern history. In 1997, Tyra Banks became the first Black woman to have a solo cover featured on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue. In 2016, Ashley Graham became one of the title’s first plus-size cover models in 2016, and in 2019, Banks returned and became the publication’s oldest cover star.

Bloom is only the second transgender woman to ever be featured in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Last year, Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio became the first. Bloom told CNN Style that it “is an incredible feeling and achievement,” yet added “that there’s still so much work to be done for more representation.”

Glamour magazine also recognized Bloom’s works in the fashion industry, naming her as one of ‘6 Women Who Are Shaping The Future of Fashion’. Leyna Bloom is living the American dream and using her platform to pave way for others. What else is in store for this up and coming model? Stay tuned.

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