The NFL got more inclusive when the Carolina Panthers hired the league’s first openly transgender cheerleader for the upcoming season.
Justine Lindsay, 29, announced that she had joined the Carolina Panthers Topcats squad in a March 30 Instagram post.
“Cats out [of] the bag, you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers Topcats Cheerleader’s as the first transgender female,” Lindsay wrote. “I would like to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who supported me along the way, alumni, TopCats family and friends for your love and support.”
Lindsay said she was happy to “break down that door” for trans athletes, when she gave her first interview since securing her spot to Buzzfeed.
“This is big,” she said about the position. “I think more people need to see this. It’s not because I want recognition. It’s just to shed light on what’s going on in the world.”
“I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings,’” Lindsay added. “‘We are actual human beings who want to better ourselves.’ I felt like, Why not tell the world: ‘Hey, listen, this is a great accomplishment.’”
FIRST NFL TRANS CHEERLEADER — CAROLINA PANTHERS pic.twitter.com/LXlYLkgm5x
— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) June 6, 2022
Lindsay also noted that aside from her immediate family, nobody knew that she was transgender, not even her best friend. Her coming out announcement came in the same post that announced she was a member of the Topcats.
In the message, she thanked Carolina Panthers cheerleading director Chandalae Lanouette for taking a “leap of faith” by hiring her.
Lanouette told Buzzfeed that Linday’s talent, not transgenderism, landed her the job. “My goal is to create a team of individuals that are absolute fire on the field but are incredible human beings in the locker room, good friends, good people, and at the end of the day, you have to walk through the door first to get to that spot,” Lanouette remarked.