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Transgender star Kim Petras poses on Sports Illustrated cover. She’s not the first

Grammy-winning transgender pop star Kim Petras is featured on the 2023 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.

And while her cover shoot is drawing praise, it’s also attracting critics who claim the inclusion of a trans woman on the classic annual issue is controversial.

But Petras actually isn’t the first trans woman to make the cover of the magazine’s swimsuit edition.

In 2021, transgender model and actress Leyna Bloom was featured on the magazine’s swimsuit cover issue. Bloomis also featured inside this year’s issue but is not on the cover.

Prior to that, the first transgender Victoria’s Secret model Valentina Sampaio also modeled for the 2020 issue but was not featured on the cover.

Petras is one of four cover models on the 2023 Swimsuit Issue. The other versions showcase actress Megan Fox, model Brooks Nader, and legendary TV host Martha Stewart.

The singer said being featured on the cover — wearing a golden, beaded bikini — was a “big dream come true.”

“I hope people take away from this that I look really hot and Sports Illustrated is cool,” she said in a video featured on the magazine’s website.

That seems to be exactly what those praising her think of the shoot, judging by the comments on Petras’ May 15 Instagram post where she shared the cover with the caption “Sports Illustrated cover girl.”

“Kim you look STUNNING!!!!” someone wrote in the comments, adding heart emojis. “A big career is in the making, we can see it!”

“This is going to piss so many people off, and I am here for it,” someone else said in the comments. “SLAY,” they added.

Others said they were also impressed by the attention to detail in the shoot.

“And the photo credits being colored as the trans flag? Iconic,” someone else said and praised Sports Illustrated for highlighting those little pink, white and blue details on the cover. “Congrats, mama!”

On Twitter, Petras announced she would perform at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in South Florida on Friday, May 19 at a show presented by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit.

Petras didn’t respond to negative comments that criticized her cover feature.

Instead, in an interview with the magazine, she focused on the positive reactions she said she’s received from the transgender community.

“I feel so happy when I hear from trans kids, and trans people in general, that they’re inspired by me,” she said.

“I think what you do is the most important thing, not what your gender is,” she added. “No matter what your gender or sexuality or any of that stuff, it’s about what you make of life and what’s inside of you. So I hope that can be inspiring to people.”

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