The Carolina Panthers Hire NFL’s First Trans Cheerleader

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The Carolina Panthers hired what many believe is the NFL’s first openly transgender cheerleader.

Justine Lindsay, 29, will join the Panthers’ cheerleading team, the Topcats, according to an Instagram post from Lindsay.

“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s as the first Transgender female,” Lindsay wrote alongside a smiling picture of Lindsay in the new uniform.

In a separate post, Lindsay said “so what if I’m [transgender], so what I’m paving the way for those under me who are scared and afraid to take that step because it is not easy to do when you have ignorant people making comments that didn’t go through the process like the rest of us.”

“I will continue to be that pioneer I will continue to inspire and help my African American beautiful trans sisters until my last breath,” Lindsay continued. “So please mind your manners and understand that if you can’t say anything nice please keep it to yourself.” (RELATED: The Rapid Uptick In LGBT Identification Is Driven By People Who Are Actually Straight, Report Finds)

Topcats’ director, Chandalae Lanouette, said hiring Lindsay was not contingent on Lindsay’s gender identity, according to Buzzfeed News.

“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 reportedly said, saying it was Lindsay’s talent that landed Lindsay the spot.

It is unclear whether Lindsay is the NFL’s official first transgender cheerleader as the organization does not keep track of gender identity, Buzzfeed reported.

Lindsay said the career move “is big” because “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,” according to Buzzfeed.