Sports Illustrated Reveals 2021 Swimsuit Issue Including First Transgender Model, Rapper Megan Thee Stallion and Naomi Osaka

by Amy Myers

This year, Sports Illustrated is “Opening Eyes, Speaking Truths and Changing Minds.” 

The publication’s much-anticipated swimsuit issue features women of all demographics and body types on its covers. Women of color like rapper Megan Thee Stallion and tennis champ Naomi Osaka are among the issue’s cover models.

But the publication seems most proud to announce that transgender model Leyna Bloom is also on a cover. Bloom is the first transgender model to grace the issue with her beauty, as well as the first transgender model of color.

All three women are equally stunning in their cover photos, a beach breeze blowing their long hair. Bloom wears a white one-piece swimsuit as she poses in the sand. Megan Thee Stallion stands in front of bright blue waters in a beige two-piece that accentuates her natural curves. Meanwhile, Osaka smiles before a crashing wave with ginormous pukka shell earrings and a mesh one-piece.

In response to Sports Illustrated‘s newest cover models, editor-in-chief MJ Day said in a press release that “the more diverse and inclusive a community, the stronger it becomes.”

But even more excited than the editor-in-chief of the publication is, of course, the models themselves.

‘Sports Illustrated’ Cover Model Leyna Bloom Responds to the Issue

Before she was the face of Sports Illustrated, Bloom faced blatant discrimination on her way to stardom. As an aspiring dance student, she won a prestigious scholarship to the Chicago Academy for the Arts. But the school refused to let her dance as a woman. So, Bloom instead began her career in modeling in New York. From there, she broke ground in the trans community with her role in Port Authority, a film that premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in France.

Now as a full-fledged actress, model and activist, Bloom shared her excitement over her gorgeous and ground-breaking Sports Illustrated photo on Instagram.

“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,” Bloom wrote in the caption. “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.”

The Sports Illustrated model hopes that her new feature will inspire other transgender women to feel empowered, seen and valued. She expressed her gratitude to the publication’s editor-in-chief for her spot on the cover.

“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,” Bloom told her followers.