Sports Illustrated Taps First Transgender Model for Swimsuit Issue Cover

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Sports Illustrated is having a landmark moment with its 2021 Swimsuit issue.

The magazine has tapped its first transgender model, Leyna Bloom, as one of three cover stars of its 58th Swimsuit Issue. Bloom is joined by tennis champion Naomi Osaka and Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion as the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover stars.

“If there’s one thing that our cover models have in common, it’s that they don’t have one thing in common,” said MJ Day, editor in chief of the magazine, in a statement. “They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms.”

Day also stated that Bloom’s landmark cover “[solidifies] the fact that the more diverse and inclusive a community, the stronger it becomes.”

She went on to explain that Osaka was tapped to celebrate her “passion, strength and power geared toward consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice and mental health,” and described Megan Thee Stallion as “a magnetic powerhouse taking the world by storm.”

Bloom is the second transgender model to appear in the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. She follows model Valentina Sampaio, who was also the first transgender model hired by Victoria’s Secret.

Osaka’s cover comes just days before the four-time Grand Slam champion is set to play at the Tokyo Summer Games as part of Japan’s team. This will be Osaka’s first major competition after withdrawing from the French Open and Wimbledon to focus on her mental health.

Megan Thee Stallion has also made history as the first rapper to appear on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue cover. The rapper has had a landmark year, winning three Grammys in March for best new artist, best rap performance and best rap song.

The 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue also features 25 diverse models, including Tinashe, Anitta, Emily DiDonato, Danielle Herrington, Kathy Jacobs, Josephine Skriver, Katrina Scott, Nyma Tang, Olivia Culpo and others.

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