Leyna Bloom makes history as Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s first transgender cover model

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Leyna Bloom has become the first transgender cover star for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The 27-year-old model and actress made her Sports Illustrated debut on Monday, calling the cover a “powerful” moment that she dedicated to the ballroom queens of past, present and future. 

“This moment heals a lot of pain in the world,” Bloom said Monday in an Instagram post. “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 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 also took to Twitter on Monday to celebrate being one of the three black women on the 2021 cover.     

There are 3 black women on 3 separate covers for Sports Illustrated and I’m one of them WOW!

— Leyna Bloom (@leynabloom) July 19, 2021

In March, Bloom became the first transgender woman of color and just the second transgender model to ever be featured in the Swimsuit Issue. Bloom was then announced as one of the cover stars in July, alongside rapper Megan Thee Stallion and tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue editor-in-chief MJ Day called Bloom’s cover a “culmination of our powerful community coming together,” and said the magazine was thrilled to help share her story. 

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“Leyna is legendary in the world of activism, strikingly gorgeous, and has an undeniable sense of self that shines through the minute she walks on set,” Day said. “Her story represents one grounded in resilience, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to help her tell it. 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.”

Leyna Bloom in 2019.

LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty

In addition to her modeling career, Bloom is also an actress. The Chicago native appeared in the final season of FX’s “Pose” and also starred in “Asking For It,” which premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2019, she became the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role in movie featured at the Cannes Film Festival.

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