Model and actress Leyna Bloom will become the first trans woman to make the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue when the 2021 issue, titled “A Living Testament,” hits the stands on Thursday. In an interview with People – The TV Show, Bloom said she felt “happiness on top of happiness on top of happiness” about the issue.
“It is a true marvel to be born in a time where we can have moments like this,” she told People. “So many other trans bodies have come before me to give me inspiration that can breathe through me in this moment.”
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Bloom first shared an image of her cover, shot by photographer Yu Tsai, with her 400,000 Instagram followers earlier this week. On the cover, she appears in a white one-piece. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion and gymnast Naomi Osaka appear on alternative versions of the cover.
Bloom spoke to Pride Source’s Chris Azzopardi in May and revealed at that time her excitement and anticipation.
“I just… I honestly, oh my… even seeing a billboard of me anywhere just gives me chills,” she said. “Because that was part of my vision board, you know? I would go to these places and see these billboards and just dream that one day that could be me. So the idea that there’s a magazine that’s on the level of Sports Illustrated that is acknowledging my life and what I do in this world with my life, wants me to be something or sees something inside of me, that’s just truly powerful to me.”
The cover, widely recognized as a milestone in trans representation, has brought Bloom a lot of positive attention already.
“So many people hit me up,” she told Pride Source. “People from all different walks of life. A lot of white men reached out to me, and not fetishizing or sexualizing me but acknowledging the fact that the world is changing and the decisions that Sports Illustrated is making allow me to not only just be a part of Sports Illustrated but to tell my story through them. (It) was truly monumental for them. They acknowledge that the world needs to change, and why has it taken so long?”
Bloom said she was also thrilled to hear from NBA legend Dwyane Wade.
“He is also from Chicago, [and he] reached out to me and congratulated me, sent me some bottles of wine — shout out to D-Wade! He’s raising a young trans daughter, and it was just truly powerful to know that the world is really changing in this moment.”