Meet Justine Lindsay — NFL's First Openly Transgender Cheerleader

Photo: Justine Lindsay/Instagram

Justine Lindsay is trailblazing a path in the world of NFL cheerleading as the league's first openly transgender cheerleader, Buzzfeed News reports.

The Carolina Panthers TopCats announced Lindsay, 29, as one of the newest additions to their roster. Lindsay took to Instagram to share the news and open up about being the TopCats' first transgender cheerleader.

“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 photo sporting her new Panthers uniform.

Although there's no official record of the league's cheerleaders, Lindsay has reportedly made NFL history by becoming a TopCat.

The 29-year-old told Buzzfeed News that she's happy to “break down that door” for future trans athletes.

“This is big. I think more people need to see this," Lindsay said. "It’s not because I want recognition. It’s just to shed light on what’s going on in the world.”

Lindsay added that she was "so scared" to make her Instagram post because only her family knew she was trans.

“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.”

Chandalae Lanouette, the TopCats' director, said that Lindsay noted she was transgender on her application, but it was her talent that earned her a spot on the roster.

“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 said.

Sam Ames, the director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, said LGBTQ visibility on this scale is "critical."

“Our research shows that LGBTQ youth report that seeing LGBTQ representation by celebrities and athletes made them feel good about being LGBTQ,” Ames said. “Especially in a place like the NFL, which occupies such a powerful position in our culture, the story of a transgender cheerleader can inspire so much more than victory. She can give young people watching a dream to hold on to and a future to hold out for.”

Lindsay said, “I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings. We are actual human beings who want to better ourselves.’" She added, "I felt like, Why not tell the world: 'Hey, listen, this is a great accomplishment.'”

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