Transcript for Leyna Bloom makes history on cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition
Reporter: This is what it looks like when somebody's wildest dreams come true. Oh my god. Changed the world! Reporter: Leyna bloom, making history as the first openly trans woman to grace the cover of "Sports illustrated's" swimsuit edition. I came here to really just represent my community, to be a representation that I want to see if the world, and this exemplifies this moment. Everything in my life just flashed through my eyes. I was like, wow. All the trials and tribulations, all the good, the bad -- it was all worth it. Reporter: Unveiling that historic moment, leyna's role model, supermodel-turned-mogul Tyra banks, who nearly 25 years ago became the first black woman to earn a solo swimsuit issue cover. It was my first time seeing, like, a woman with, like, curves that was beautiful, that was non. Because she imagined what she could do because of this opportunity, and look at me. Look at you! Look at this! Look at you, oh my gosh. Take a look at that picture for me right now. What do you see when you see that? I see a woman that has mastered her design. I see a woman that has created a life for herself. People can look at this and say, wow, we are taking a peek into the future. Reporter: It's a future already emerging. Mj Rodriguez, "Pose." Reporter: Like leyna's "Pose" costar, mj Rodriguez, the first trans Emmy nominee in a lead acting category. Cataluna Enriquez, another black filipina set to become the first transgender miss usa contestant. What do all these milestones collectively say to you? It's a dream that has always been there. It's a dream that my trans sisters who have come before me have bestowed upon me. It's a moment for all of us to say, thank you for allowing to us see ourselves. Reporter: Leyna is one of a trio of groundbreaking women chosen. Tennis champ mayomy Osaka, the first black female athlete on the nation's cover. Megan thee stallion, the first rapper featured. I first spoke with leyna in March after her first shoot. The idea that trans women are just out here and living in spaces and billboards and magazines is very new. Reporter: Leyna has already broken barrier after barrier. A cover girl in every sense of the word. Strutting down catwalks and striking a pose for brands like Levi's and dior. In 2019, she became the first openly open trans woman of color to star in a movie at the. Translator: Festival, "Port authority," the story of a straight cis man falling in love with a trans woman set against New York's vibrant ballroom scene. It's important to tell that story. Trans women are often sensationalized, sexualized. This is a trans woman who is not. She's in charge and knows who she is. Reporter: The film imitating life. Leyna's found family, the ballroom community, where she competed in the face competition. Face is a unique expression of mind and body and soul and how to present that beautifully. This is an example. You have a nose. You give it structure. You have cheekbone. You give it structure. You have a jawline. You give it structure. You have a smile. You give it personality. You just went full ballroom on me. I did. I love it, that was so good, thank you so much. Reporter: In the ballroom, she found the acceptance she'd longed for for years. After losing a high school dance scholarship. I had to detransition to receive the scholarship. It was a men's scholarship for me to dance as a man. They asked me to cut my hair they asked me to develop some type of diet to build up muscle. And because of the scholarship, I fell into a really serious depression, and my grades were affected by that. So it was either get my grades and up continue the scholarship, or do something else with your life. So I chose to transition again and moved to New York City and live my most authentic self. Without your scholarship, and without a lot of economic opportunities, you like many trans young adults faced homelessness. Yes. I've dealt with homelessness throughout my life. So when I moved to New York City, and being homeless on the trains, being homeless on, you know, the benches, it was homeless for a purpose. You still had the dream? Yeah, I still had the dream. The dream was feeding me when I wa starving in my body. Reporter: Through it all, one man stood by her side, her Here's a single black man who was raised in the projects, raising a transgender, biracial child in today's society. Your father was with you every step? When I wanted to transition, when I wanted to get the things to make me feel my complete self, he was right there. We went to Thailand together when I was 18 years old. When I woke up from my surgery, he was right there. But literally, the living embodiment of unconditional love. Of course, yes. That's what that's called. And this is what it looks like when you do that. Reporter: That unconditional love and support have become leyna's lifeline. Are there times when you felt like you were a victim of hate? Every single day of my life. But it makes me stronger. This is what it looks like. All my haters made me who I am. Every single day? Yes. Leyna is just so many wonderful things in one body. She's joy. She's perseverance. She's strength. Reporter: M.J. Day is editor-in-chief of "Sports illustrated" swimsuit. It's one thing for society to be ready for it, it's another thing to have "Sports illustrated" readership be ready for trans models. I mean, if they're not ready for it, they can go somewhere else. Because this is what we are. This is the future of our brand. The audience for "Sports illustrated" is predominantly male. Sometimes straight men have a hard time when they find themselves attracted to a trans woman. Right. And so what do you say to the straight male who finds himself attracted to you? That there's something inside you that is honest. That there's something that is pure. That is something that doesn't lie to you, and that's what you should lead into and be attracted to. Because in society, we're taught not to do that. Reporter: Leyna knows that the first step towards change is visibility. Where showing your true self is an act of defiance and an act of courage. Is this beautiful covering a shield? Or a true expression? It's both. I have to protect it. I have to protect all of this. Being in "Sports illustrated," that's the weapon. Here's a magazine that has had so many different walks of life for women, and now it's a moment for a trans woman to take her moment in the spotlight and go back to the beach and tell other women that are trans of experience and all different forms of experience to say, get your suntanning lotion, get your chair, get your blanket, and lay on a beach and be there. You deserve to be at the beach also.
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