“This is what it looks like to be in full bloom.”
The above was the caption Black-Asian transgender model Leyna Bloom used to announce her historic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. This is the first time the coveted magazine has featured a Black transgender model in its 60-year history.
Bloom told GMA that she never for once thought she would be “born in a time when something like this would happen to someone with (her) skin tone” and she is living out her dreams.
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She is the second transgender model to be featured in the magazine with the first being Brazilian model, Valentina Sampaio.
The Black and Filipino model said being featured is an incredible feeling, however, there is still more to be done to balance the scales because representation is key. “This moment is bigger than my wildest infinite dreams,” wrote Bloom. “At this moment, I am a representation of all the communities I grew from, and all the communities I’m planting seeds in.”
This is not the first time Bloom is making history in the fashion industry — 2017 was her year, literally. Aside from being one of the first openly transgender models at New York Fashion Week in September 2017, she also was the first transgender woman of color to appear in Vogue India in October 2017, according to USA Today.
Two years later, Bloom became the first trans woman of color to have a movie, “Port Authority”, premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bloom making it to the cover of Sports Illustrated was purely based on merit, her commitment, beauty, and desire to make the world a better place for everyone, said MJ Day, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s Editor In Chief.
“Her presence as the first trans woman of color to be in our issue is a result of her lifetime dedication to forging her path that has led to acceptance, love, and change,” Day said. “She represents every person’s right to love themselves and be who they want to be. We are honored to have her in this year’s issue and understand the effect it will have on so many others.”
Glamour also recognized Bloom’s works in the fashion game and named her as one of “6 Women Who Are Shaping The Future of Fashion.” Bloom is living her American dream and using her platform to pave way for others.
“It’s not just in the trans community,” Bloom told Glamour. “It’s in my Black community. It’s in my Asian community. I’m the product of deportation and immigration so I’m a product of many different things in our society that I have to use my voice to stand up (for).”