Fil-Am Leyna Bloom makes history as first trans woman cover star of Sports Illustrated

Published July 21, 2021, 11:53 AM

by John Legaspi

Leyna Bloom, Fil-Am model and actress, is one of the cover stars for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 issue, making her the first transgender woman of color to grace its cover.

Leyna Bloom poses for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 (Photos by Yu Tsai)

“This moment heals a lot of pain in the world,” the 27-year-old posts on Instagram. “We deserve this moment, we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder.”

Looking proud and beautiful, Leyna poses on the cover wearing a white Gil Rodriguez one-piece swimsuit, a brand known for its slow fashion initiative. The cover was shot by Yu Tsai and led by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day.

“This cover with Leyna Bloom is truly a historical and ground-breaking moment,” Yu Tsai says. “I am honored and privileged to be part of the moment and captured her as we continue to highlight the importance of change, inclusion, and diversity in all aspects of our lives!”

As part of the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 issue dubbed as “Opening eyes. Speaking truths. Changing minds,” Leyna chats with supermodel Tyra Banks, who in 1997 became the first Black woman on the magazine’s cover, the first issue of the magazine Leyna saw. Joining her as fellow cover stars are professional tennis player Naomi Osaka and rapper Megan Thee Stallion.

“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,” Leyna muses. “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.”

“I dedicate this cover to all ballroom femme queens past, present, and future. This historical moment is important to girls like us because it allows us to live and be seen,” she continues. “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. 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.”

Apart from being featured by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Leyna is also known for acting on TV show “Pose” and the 2019 movie “Port Authority,” her fight for trans rights, and talking about her Filipino roots with Levi’s.

 
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