Panthers’ Justine Lindsay becomes NFL’s first openly transgender cheerleader

Panthers cheerleader Justine Lindsay will become the NFL’s first openly transgender cheerleader during the 2022 season.

Lindsay will be a member of the Topcats, Carolina’s cheerleading team. Lindsay made the announcement on her Instagram account back in March, thanking her fellow dancers and Topcats alumni for their support.

Lindsay said she had reservations about sharing the post publicly, as she had not shared that she was transgender with anyone outside of her family.

“I was so scared,” Lindsay told Paige Skinner of BuzzFeed News. “There’s just some things you can’t put out. … I felt like when I put it out, ‘Whatever reaction I get from everybody, it doesn’t matter.’ And then my phone started exploding.”

Lindsay noted on her Topcats application that she was transgender. That did not factor into the team’s decision to offer her a spot, according to Topcats.

“My goal is to create a team of individuals who are absolutely fire on the field, but who are incredible people in the locker room, great friends, great people, and at the end of the day, you have to walk through the door first to get to that place,” said Topcats director Chandalae Lanouette, to Skinner.

Lindsay said she was happy to share her story publicly to raise awareness and visibility for transgender people.

“This is huge,” Lindsay 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.”

“I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we’re not just sexual beings,'” Lindsay said. “We’re actual people who want to improve ourselves. I felt like, ‘Why not tell the world — hey listen, this is a big accomplishment.’

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