Leyna Bloom, first trans woman of color in Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue: ‘I have to really make sure that I’m not the last.’
In July, Leyna Bloom will appear as the first transgender woman in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.
Bloom does not take the responsibility of being first lightly.
“I sat and talked 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 has given me is the best advice I live by every day. There will never be another premiere. You just have to honestly know that everything you do from now on has to serve the overall picture. "
2021 will be a big year for Bloom. The model and actress appeared on the final season of Pose, and she starred in her first feature film, Port Authority, which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Here Bloom became the first transsexual woman in a leading role in the history of the festival. Now available on Prime Video, the film tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a woman rooted in Harlem's energetic ballroom scene.
"I think for me it was the idea that a trans woman can love, a trans woman can be loved," says Bloom.
Leyna Bloom and Fionn Whitehead in the film Port Authority. (Photo: Momentum Images)
Historically, many stories with transgender characters in Hollywood portray them in a negative or problematic light. Since 2002, GLADD has cataloged episodes of shows with transsexual storylines and found that transgender characters were portrayed negatively about 51 percent of the time. At least 40 percent of the time, Transch characters were cast in a "victim" role.
Bloom says she wanted to be part of a movie that showed joy, love and community.
“To be adored in the world is very unknown territory for many people, even to admit it or to talk about it or to really sit down and have a conversation. It's done in such a beautiful way that is very human to all of us. It's rooted in love and finding a connection with yourself and the outside world, ”says Bloom.
Bloom, who is both Black and Filipino, grew up in Chicago and had a love of performing at the Chicago Academy for the Arts. She says she was a dancer who posed well and soon had to audition for modeling jobs. Despite her natural talent, Bloom's excitement quickly subsided as she pushed herself back from the industry.
"They put me on my first runway show and there was a lot of discrimination right away," says Bloom. "There was just no protection, a lot of disrespect, a lot of gender flaws."
"It was difficult at first, but I'm glad I went through this so the next generation doesn't have to," says Bloom.
Despite the setbacks, Bloom stood firm. Eventually she found a photographer who saw her potential, and it wasn't long before she landed her first magazine cover. In 2017, Bloom became the first open-ended transgender woman to appear on Vogue India.
While her trail had some bumps, Bloom said she found a bigger purpose in breaking barriers. “I think for me it has always been my responsibility to bring my visibility and the visibility of trans liveliness to every experience and space around the world. I think I can do that, ”says Bloom.
Leyna Bloom attends TrevorLIVE LA event (Photo: Getty Images)
In 2020, the human rights campaign documented that at least 44 transgender or non-gender conforming people were murdered - most of them black or Latinx. Bloom says her intersectionality is something she takes pride in showing.
"As a woman, as a woman of color, as a trans woman, I am literally a walking vessel for everything that is being wiped out in the world," she says of living and being seen by the world because I was wiped out from humanity for so many years. "
From education and speaking to story writing and telling, Bloom uses every moment to live fully and in its truth. She wants to be seen. She wants to take up space. And she wants others to know that they can do the same.
“It's about time I really understood that I was born into a world I didn't fit in, so I'm creating one that I do,” says Bloom. “And that's why I feel like it's such a responsibility. Because I'm the first, I really have to be careful that I'm not the last. "
Port Authority is now available on VOD and digital platforms.
Produced by Jacquie Cosgrove
More from Yahoo Life:
Schuyler Bailar was the first transport athlete to compete in the NCAA. Now he wants to stop bills banning trans children from playing sport.
A teacher who says he will not respect the pronouns of transgender students has been on leave. Now he's suing.
Anti-trans laws aim to make it a crime to medically treat transgender youth. Experts say it will have "fatal consequences".
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