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First trans SI swimsuit model

Valentina Sampaio has made history by becoming the first transgender model ever featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue.

Editors of the iconic yearly edition of the publication announced the Brazilian bombshell as the 2020 Rookie on Friday, and the rising star couldn't be happier about the honour.

"I was filled with so many emotions of happiness when I heard the news," she tells People in a statement. "The feeling was surreal. Being in SI Swim has always been on my bucket list of things to achieve in my career. It's a dream come true on so many levels. SI has been a deeply meaningful achievement. To come from a space of fear and marginalization, to now being included in one of the most iconic magazines that truly embraces and celebrates diversity - it is life changing."

Valentina, who was also the first transgender model to work with Victoria's Secret, hopes her 2020 Rookie appearance in the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue will inspire change and progress for other members of the transgender community.

"As a community, each personal success is a step forward for all," she shares. "I am very grateful to God and all whom have helped me along my journey so far. I honor the challenges of those who have paved the way for me directly or indirectly. They have made where I am today possible. I am committed to keep growing and push boundaries, so that I can in some way, pave the path for others. We are here, we always have been here and we always will be."

The SI Swimsuit 2020 issue drops on July 21.

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