Bloom Is First Black Trans Woman to Appear in Sports Illustrated

Image via Instagram @leynabloom

Model and actress Leyna Bloom has once again made history by becoming the first out trans model to ever appear on the cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

The cover is one of three alongside rapper Meg Thee Stallion and Japanese professional tennis player Naomi Osaka. Bloom is also the first Black trans woman to appear in the publication.

“This cover and this moment represent what it looks like in the future,” Bloom said in an interview with Page Six, who announced the news. 

Bloom’s interest in modeling and movement grew from family roots. She first envisioned a future in fashion while growing up on the South Side of Chicago, where her grandmother taught ballroom and runway classes. 

“This is my bloodline,” she said. “This is my ancestry. This is where I come from.”

At the age of 17, Bloom moved to New York City and found early success within the ballroom scene. She then translated those skills into a modeling career after being discovered in a store in Soho. Bloom has walked for brands like Chromat and Tommy Hilfiger, did a series of videos for Dior, appeared in campaigns for H&M and Levi’s, and has been featured in publications like Vogue India

Making the cover of a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, it is safe to say that her career is in full bloom. 

“I never imagined that I would be born in a time where something like this would happen for someone with my skin tone and someone with my background,” Bloom said. “This is a magazine that says we are allowed to be beautiful in all of our shapes and sizes.”

Outside of modeling, Bloom pursued an acting career and became the first trans woman of color to lead a film premiering at Cannes Film Festival with Port Authority. The project became her acting debut, and she followed it up by playing Pretentia Khan, a recurring role on FX’s hit series Pose.

Her second film, Asking For It, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. 

Bloom’s moment with Sports Illustrated comes as the latest is a series of moves aimed at expanding the publication’s idea of sexy. In 2020, Valentina Sampaio became the first trans model to ever appear in the Swimsuit Issue. This year, Lewis Freese, a nonbinary model assigned male at birth, made history for their inclusion in the Swim Search. 


 

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