History makes it way to the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue this year as model and actress Leyna Bloom will become the first out trans model to appear on the popular annual’s cover. Bloom was already set to be included in the issue, becoming the first trans woman of color and second trans woman ever to do so, but news came Monday that she will be one of three solo cover models for 2021’s installment. She joins rapper Meg Thee Stallion and tennis star Naomi Osaka.
Bloom commented on the accomplishment on Instagram, saying, “This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder.”
“I’m am so happy, honored, and humbled to share that I’m the 1st trans woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated,” Bloom added. “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. 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.”
Bloom joins fellow non-cis models Valentina Sampaio, the first trans model to appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and Lewis Freese, the first assigned male at birth nonbinary model to reach the finals of Sports Illustrated’s Swim Search.
Gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s most popular issue is just the latest in a long line of accomplishments for Bloom. She translated her prowess walking ‘Face’ in the historically trans BIPOC world of ballroom into a successful modeling career, working with companies like Dior, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger and H&M. Bloom also entered the acting world with the film “Port Authority,” the first film to debut at the Cannes Film Festival to feature a trans woman of color in a leading role.
Bloom also got the chance to honor her roots by appearing in a recurring role during the third and final season of Ryan Murphy’s powerful depiction of ballroom culture “Pose” as Pretentia Khan. Bloom invoked her time in ballroom again when announcing the cover. “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,” Bloom said.
“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,” she added. “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.”