Justine Lindsay has made NFL history as the league’s first transgender cheerleader.
On March 30, the 29-year-old announced via Instagram that she was the newest member of the Carolina Panthers’ Topcats cheer squad. In her post, Justine Lindsay also came out as transgender – a first for the NFL. To celebrate her achievement, she posed in her new cheerleading uniform while smiling at the camera.
“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s TopCats as the first Transgender female,” Lindsay captioned her post. “This is a moment I will never forget and I cannot wait to show you all what this girl has to bring,” she wrote before adding that the opportunity is “a dream come true.”
Deciding to come out publicly wasn’t easy. “I was so scared,” Lindsay told BuzzFeed News about the decision to post. “There’s just some things you can’t post. Ultimately, Lindsay wanted to share how proud she was for making the team. “I just felt like when I posted it, whatever reaction I get from everyone, it does not matter,” Lindsay said. “And then my phone started blowing up.”
Topcat’s cheer director Chandalae Lanouette added that Lindsay made the team based on her talent, not because she is transgender. “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,” she also told BuzzFeed News.
After learning that she wouldn’t have to wear a wig while performing, Lindsay decided she also wants to help “inspire other young girls who may be insecure rocking their bald look.”
She wants to show younger generations that representation exists and that anything is possible.
“This is big,” she told Buzzfeed News. “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.”