Justine Lindsay is the NFL’s first openly gay cheerleader

Justine Lindsay announced that she made the Carolina Panthers TopCats cheer team at the end of March.

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

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Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

Justine Lindsay announced that she made the Carolina Panthers TopCats cheer team at the end of March.

Chanelle Smith-Walker/Carolina Panthers

The NFL season doesn’t start until September, but Justine Lindsay is making offseason history by becoming the first leader to openly switch leagues.

Lindsay, 29, announced she made the Carolina Panthers TopCats earlier this year in an Instagram post.

“Cats out of the bag you’re looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats who is the first female Transgender,” Lindsay wrote. “I would like to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who supported me along the way… This is a moment I will never forget, and I can’t wait to show you all that this girl has to offer. Thank you.” is a @topcats dream come true.”

Lindsay told BuzzFeed News she was “too scared” to share the post on Instagram and came out publicly.

“I felt when I posted it, whatever reaction I got from everybody, it didn’t matter,” Lindsay told BuzzFeed. “And then my phone started blowing up.”

Fans sent messages of support to Lindsay on her Instagram posts, including telling her to stop posting hateful messages or those questioning her place on the team.

Both TopCats director Chandalae Lanouette and the Panthers said Lindsay’s skills are what secured her spot on the team.

“TopCats members are hired based on their qualifications and abilities,” the Panthers said in a statement to NPR. “Our organization is an equal employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or national origin. We wish all TopCats, including Justine Lindsay, a wonderful season. ah.”

Justine Lindsay said she will continue to “pave the way for those below me who are afraid and afraid to take that step.”

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