Sports Illustrated has revealed three separate covers for the models featured on its annual swimsuit issue, including the magazine’s first-ever transgender cover model, Leyna Bloom.
“These are huge moments,” Bloom said in June when it was first announced that the model would be the first transgender person of color to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue, according to NBC News.
“But it’s just like, why has it taken so long?”
“I think more agencies, more movies, more films, more fashion shows need to not only hire trans talent but also make sure that the people they are hiring — the crew, the casting directors — represent that, also,” added Bloom, a male who identifies as female.
Megan Thee Stallion and Naomi Osaka were named as the cover models of the other two editions.
“If there’s one thing that our cover models have in common, it’s that they don’t have one thing in common. They look different, have different upbringings, have different passions and inspirations. But each is a reminder that beauty comes in many forms,” Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor-in-chief MJ Day said.
Sports Illustrated said, “Leyna made her acting debut in the film Port Authority, marking the first film in Cannes Film Festival history that featured a transgender woman of color in a leading role.”
It added, “Now, Leyna makes history yet again as the first transgender cover model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit history and the first trans person of color to appear on our pages.”
— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) July 19, 2021
Bloom tweeted upon the issue’s release, “This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder.”
This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment; we have waited millions of years to show up as survivors and be seen as full humans filled with wonder. @SI_Swimsuit #SI2021 pic.twitter.com/ArvYsG1IS2
— Leyna Bloom (@leynabloom) July 19, 2021
The news comes after a transgender athlete has been allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games — transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand.
Belgian weightlifter Anna Vanbellinghen, who competes in the same super-heavyweight category as Hubbard, spoke out in a statement to Inside the Games, calling the move “a bad joke.”
Hubbard, 43, competed as a man before “transitioning” in 2013 at the age of 35, according to Reuters.
Vanbellinghen, 27, said she doesn’t reject Hubbard’s transgender identity.
“First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity,” she said.
“I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible,” she said.
But she said a dose of common sense and a concern for fairness should have been taken into account when deciding whether to allow a man who has competed as a weightlifter for many years to compete against women.
“Anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes,” she said.
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