As the first openly transgender woman to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, Leyna Bloom can safely say her modeling career is, well, in full bloom.

But the seeds for the history-making moment were planted back in 1997, when she first flipped through the Tyra Banks-fronted edition of the bikini bible on her father’s coffee table.

“When they told me I got the cover, I spoke to my dad,” Bloom told Page Six Style.


“I was like, ‘When I was looking at that magazine … I was looking into my future. You were giving me the tools I needed to see myself, to know that I could be there, that I could inspire, that one day I could be a part of this.’”

Fittingly, Banks — the magazine’s first solo black cover star — was there to celebrate when SI Swim’s editor-in-chief, MJ Day, told Bloom she’d appear on one of the famed glossy’s three 2021 covers, making for a “surreal” full-circle moment that left her feeling “shook” in the best way.

“This cover and this moment represent what it looks like in the future,” said Bloom, who has been texting back and forth with the “America’s Next Top Model” host ever since the big reveal. MORE 



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