NEW YORK — Valentina Sampaio has become the first openly transgender model hired by Victoria’s Secret nearly a year after a top company official was pressured to apologize for implying trans women are off brand.
Sampaio, a Brazilian, has been posting from behind the scenes of a VS Pink campaign to the delight of celebrities who include Laverne Cox.
Cox who is also transgender, posted on one of Sampaio’s photos: “Wow finally!”
Victoria’s Secret model Lais Ribeiro, a fellow Brazilian, tweeted: “First transgender to shoot with Vs! This make me so happy!”
Victoria’s Secret has previously come under fire for its stance on the transgender community.
In 2018, Ed Razek, the chief marketing officer for Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, sparked controversy with his comments in an interview with Vogue, saying he didn’t think the brand should include “transsexuals” in its show.
“Why not? Because the show is a fantasy,” Razek said. “It’s a 42-minute entertainment special. That’s what it is.”
The term “transsexuals” is considered outdated and offensive to many in the LGBTQ community.
Razek later apologized for his comments in a statement published on the Victoria’s Secret Twitter account, writing: “My remark regarding the inclusion of transgender models in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show came across as insensitive. I apologize.”
“To be clear, we would absolutely cast a transgender model for the show.”
Sampaio was not hired for the show, and the company is rethinking having one at all after ratings sagged last time around.
CNN and Associated Press contributed to this report.