Justine Lindsay Becomes First Openly Transgender Cheerleader In The NFL
"It's not because I want recognition; It's just to shed light on what's going on in the world," Lindsay said.
by Danteé Ramos
June 07, 2022 at 6:33 pm
Justine Lindsay has made NFL history.
The 29-year-old is the newest member of the Carolina Panthers’ Topcats cheer squad and the league’s first openly transgender cheerleader.
Lindsay has kept her truth about being a transgender woman close to her heart, only sharing it with her immediate family until she decided to post her next career move on Instagram. Lindsay’s post would open the door to an entire community of friends and extended family into her lifelong secret.
In an Instagram post announcing that she was joining the Topcats Carolina Panthers cheer squad, Lindsay came out as trans.
Lindsay is seen boasting with happiness in her new cheerleading uniform in the photo.
“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female,” read the caption.
Unsure of what the comments would be like under her “coming out” photo, Lindsay opened up to BuzzFeed about how scary the decision to post was, but she was proud of herself for making the team.
“I was so scared,” Lindsay told BuzzFeed News. “There’s just some things you can’t post,” Lindsay said.
“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.”
Although the NFL does not have a team cheerleading archive, Lindsay is the first trans person to be an NFL cheerleader.
Topcat cheer director Chandalae Lanouette told Buzz Feed that adding Lindsay to the team was solely based on her talent, not her being 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,” Lanouette told BuzzFeed.
Not only is Lindsay making way for transgender women, but she also has reclaimed what the NFL cheerleader’s beauty standard is.
Typically the NFL squads stick to the white, thin, long hair aesthetic while expecting them to look ideally beautiful and seamlessly perfect as they do physically tasking stunts on the sidelines.
Lindsay is happy to “inspire other young girls who may be insecure rocking their bald look” after learning she wouldn’t have to wear a wig while performing.
“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.” she added.
Lindsay is looking forward to being in the light for the younger generation to see representation and the possibility of achieving the unthinkable.
“I’m happy because I was able to breakdown that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings,'” Lindsay said. “‘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.'”
Comments are already rolling in, one of them being from rapper 50 Cent, who posted the news of Lindsay joining the team on Sunday.
“I guess the NFL is looking to spread its wings,” 50 Cent questioned. “Why not a transgender player, though? I hope this is not just for press.”
— LordTreeSa🅿️ (@LordTreeSap) June 6, 2022
Lindsay joining the team may even push the idea of male cheerleaders joining NFL cheer teams.