The Brazilian-born model and activist said that she hoped her appearance in the “revolutionary problem” would open people’s eyes to the problems facing LGBTQ + people in her country.
Sampaio has long expressed support for Brazilfrom the trans community.
The 23-year-old announced her appearance in the famous swimsuit issue on Instagram where she also shared a bikini photo captured for the magazine by photographer Josie Clough on Scrub Island in the British Virgin Islands.
Sampaio wrote: “Brazil is a beautiful country, but it also hosts the largest number of violent crimes and murders against the trans community in the world – three times that of the United States. ”
The model was born in a remote fishing village in northern Brazil, to a teaching mother and a fishing father.
She continued, “Being trans generally means facing closed doors for people’s hearts and minds. ”
Sampaio said that people were confronted with “insults, frightening reactions and physical violations just to exist”.
“Our options for growing up in a loving and welcoming family, having a successful school experience or finding decent work are unimaginably limited and difficult,” she said.
Sampaio described his own education as support.
While she said she was “excited and honored” to be a SI Swimsuit 2020 rookie, she admitted that she was one of the “lucky ones”.
Previous models who appeared in Sport’s Illustrated early in their careers include Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and Ashley Graham.
Sampaio made history in 2017 when it became the first trans model to cover a Vogue edition, appearing on Vogue Paris, Vogue Brasil and Vogue Germany.
She also honored the covers of Vanity Fair Italia and Elle Mexico.
She has become Victoria’s Secret’s first openly transgender model in August 2019.
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The fashion industry has come under criticism over the years for its narrow definition of beauty, with calls for it to become more diverse and inclusive.
Sport’s Illustrated editor MJ Day said the magazine strives to hire “the most inspiring, interesting and multidimensional women we can find.”
She said: “We are deeply moved that Valentina is ready to trust us.
“We didn’t think twice before wanting to amplify his voice and his message and give him a platform to defend his personal interests and the trans community. “