Fil-Am Leyna Bloom makes history as the first trans woman of color to model for Sports Illustrated

Published March 17, 2021, 5:05 PM

by John Legaspi

Leyna Bloom for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (Photos from @si_swimsuit)

Leyna Bloom graces the pages of Sports Illustrated, making her the first Black, Asian transgender model to be featured in the magazine. 

“The idea that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has chosen me to be a part of this huge moment tells me that I deserve to be cherished and that what I represent as a woman should never be taken for granted. Regardless of my unique circumstances,” Leyna says. “I feel so lucky to be a part of something that is rooted in change and acceptance… It’s not just about being beautiful but being beautiful with a powerful message.”

As an actress, Leyna is best known for her work in the feature film “Port Authority” that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. But many remember her well for her activism, one of which is her campaign to be cast as the first trans woman to walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show that went viral in 2018.

Shot by photographer Yu Tsai, the swimwear spread featuring Leyna is another progressive step taken by the magazine toward equality and diversity. Last 2020, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit also presented Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio as its first transgender model to appear in the magazine.

“Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her own path that has led to acceptance, love, and change,” editor of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit MJ Day says. “We are honored to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others.”