With Americans anxiously awaiting the return of the NFL, the Carolina Panthers decided to give fans a little taste of what is to come this season. Not giving away their game plane or potential moves within the league, the Panthers announced their newest cheerleader- 29-year-old Justine Lindsay. While teams don’t generally make a big deal about the newest cheerleaders on their team, Lindsay was an exception.
This is because he- although he goes by “she”- will be the first transgender cheerleader to cheer in the NFL.
Celebrating the accomplishment, Lindsay spoke with BuzzFeed News where she stated, “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.” However, she also revealed her new position on Instagram, somewhat contradicting her “not because I want recognition” statement. “Cats Out the Bag. You are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female.”
The person continued by sharing thoughts on the matter, saying, “I would like to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who supported me along the way alumni TopCats family and friends for your love and support. I would not have gotten to this moment in my life if it wasn’t for the support. Also to my beautiful coach @chandalaelanouette you are a special being that I truly cherish thank you taking that leap of faith on me to be apart of your legacy and so many others. This is a moment I will never forget and I cannot wait to show you all what this girl has to bring. Thank you @topcats a dream come true.”
While Lindsay shared that she was hesitant at first, given the backlash she might receive after the announcement, director of the TopCats team, Chandalae Lanouette, explained how her “athletic prowess” led to her being on the team. “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.”
While it doesn’t appear to have been addressed so far, it’s unknown whether the cheerleader will be changing in the male or female locker room. So far no other cheerleaders have spoken out about the situation, neither in the positive or the negative.
This piece was written by Jeremy Porter on June 7, 2022. It originally appeared in LifeZette  and is used with permission.
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