Valentina Sampaio Is Sports Illustrated's 1st Trans Model — 7 Facts about the Brazilian Beauty

Jaimie-lee Prince
Jul 18, 2020
05:30 P.M.
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Valentina Sampaio made history by becoming the first transgender model to land in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine. Here's what we know about the Brazilian beauty.


In July 2020, Valentina Sampaio accomplished something that none before her have managed to do: she made her way into Sports Illustrated Swimsuit as an openly transgender woman.

Sampaio has been making waves in the media, becoming the first openly transgender model for Victoria's Secret last year. At 23, she has accomplished a lot, yet there is more to her not many are aware of.


1. She was born in a remote fishing village in Aquiraz, Ceará, Brazil. Sampaio knew she was transgender by eight and had changed her name by 12.

She's an LGTBQ activist in Brazil, which she says has a particularly harsh reception to trans people. Some reports claim that the country's trans people see the most killings of trans people worldwide.

2. She has been on the cover of several other magazines. In addition to her latest accomplishment, Sampaio has managed to add Vogue Paris, Vogue Germany, and Vogue Brasil to her portfolio already.

Furthermore, she's collaborated with brands including H&M, Dior, Marc Jacobs, and L'Oreal Paris. One of her dreams is to make the cover of America's Vogue.


3. She has a variety of other goals aside from modeling. Sampaio's career goals are certainly admirable, but she has other, more regular dreams.

Besides wanting to meet Ellen DeGeneres, Sampaio once said she hopes "to marry, to have a family, [and] to have an incredible career. She certainly has the drive.

4. Sampaio broke barriers with her Victoria's Secret runway show. Last year, Sampaio didn't just become the first transgender woman in Victoria's Secret runway show, she was the first after controversial remarks from its chief marketing officer, Ed Razek.


Razek said he doesn't think the brand should have transgender models because it "is a fantasy." After backlash from the public, the brand issued an apology. Less than a year later, Sampaio made history.

5. She's unrelated to Sara Sampaio. Despite having the same last name, similar brown hair, and matching green eyes, Sampaio and fellow model Sara Sampaio are not related.

6. She receives tons of support from fans and colleagues. Sampaio has been praised by fellow trans women who look up to her as well as other women who take to the runway.


7. She was ecstatic when Sports Illustrated named her a 2020 Rookie for their July edition. "I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news," she told People.

Sampaio has stated her dedication to breaking down barriers so that others might follow in her footsteps without facing the same challenges. The new edition of Sports Illustrated hits stands on July 21.

Last year, another Sports Illustrated first came when Halima Aden made the magazine as the first hijabi to land in an issue. The Somalian model called herself a "burkini babe" hoping to inspire others.

The historic moment saw Aden lying in water in a blue suit, head wrap, and aqua throw over. Only her hands and feet were bare. "Don't be afraid to be the first," she said in a promo clip for the issue.

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