The Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleading team has hired the NFL’s first openly transgender cheerleader. Justine Lindsay announced on Instagram that she had made the team, calling it a “dream come true.”
“Cats Out the Bag, you’re watching the newest member of the @topcats Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader as the first Transgender female,” she wrote on Instagram after making the team. She thanked fellow cheerleaders and her coach for the support.
“This is a moment I will never forget and I can’t wait to show you all this girl has to bring,” Lindsay wrote.
However, on Monday, after BuzzFeed published an article about Lindsay, she again took to Instagram to address transphobic hate she received.
“Thanks to all my haters who think I’m tearing the organization down, clearly I’m not,” she said. “The Carolina Panthers organization is great, one that supports all people white, black, yellow trans, straight etc. at the end of the day myself and the other 29 members @topcats made the squad fair and square.”
Lindsay said she’s paving the way for others who are “scared and afraid to take that step because it’s not easy to do when you have ignorant comments that haven’t gone through the process like the rest of us.”
“I will continue to be that trailblazer that I will continue to inspire and help my African American beautiful trans sisters until my last breath,” she wrote. “So please mind your manners and understand that if you can’t say something nice please keep it to yourself.”
In her first interview since joining the team, Lindsay told BuzzFeed she was “so scared” to share the news on Instagram.
“There are just some things you can’t post,” she said. “I just felt like when I posted it, whatever reaction I got from everybody, it didn’t matter. And then my phone blew up.”
Lindsay said she wants people to understand the significance of her joining the team.
“This is big,” she said. “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.”
This story was originally published by CBS News on June 7, 2022 at 9:17 am. ET.
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