Leyna Bloom on being the first trans woman of color in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue

In July, Leyna Bloom will be the first transgender woman to appear in the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and the responsibility of being the first is one that Bloom doesn’t take lightly.

“I would sit and talk to a lot of people who were the first to do things. One of the people was Tyra banks,” Bloom told Yahoo Life. “The best advice she gave me is the best advice I just live by every day. There will never be another first. You just honestly have to know that everything that you do from today on has to be for the bigger picture.”

The model and actress will also appear in the final season of Pose, and she is starring in her first feature film. The film, Port Authority, premiered in 2019 and made Bloom the first trans woman of color to lead a film at Cannes Film Festival. Now available on Prime Video, the movie tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a woman entrenched in Harlem’s voguing ballroom scene.

Historically in Hollywood, many stories featuring transgender characters show them in a negative or problematic light. Since 2002, GLADD as been cataloging episodes of shows featuring trans storylines and found that transgender characters were negatively portrayed about 51% of the time. At least 40% of the time, trans characters were cast in a "victim" role.

Bloom says she wanted to be a part of a film that showed joy, love, and community.

“Me in the world being adored is something that is very unfamiliar territory for a lot of people to even admit or talk about or really sit down and have a conversation with. It’s done in such a beautiful way that is very human to us all. It’s rooted in love and finding a connection to yourself and outside worlds,” says Bloom.

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