The National Football League has hired 29-year-old Justin Lindsay, its first openly transgender cheerleader. Back in March, Lindsay announced on Instagram that she had created the TopCats, a cheerleading squad for the Carolina Panthers. She also came out as a transgender in the same post.
“Cats out of the bag you are the newest member of @topcats Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleader as the first transgender female L. I want to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who helped me to share with the family and friends of TopCats alumni With you supported. Love and support. I wouldn’t have gotten to this moment in my life if it wasn’t for the support. You’re a special person I really cherish, on me too for my beautiful coach @chandalaelanouette Thank you for taking the leap of faith. Stay away from your legacy and many others. This is a moment I will never forget and I can’t wait to show you all what this girl has to bring. Thanks @topcats a dream come true,” she wrote in the post.
The NFL does not keep a record of its cheerleaders. However, Lindsay is believed to be the first openly transgender woman hired by the league. Talking about her Instagram post, Lindsay told BuzzFeed, “I was so scared. There are just some things you can’t post.”
The squad's director, Chandalae Lanouette, told BuzzFeed that Lindsay had disclosed that she is transgender on her application, but that all that mattered when forming the team was the cheerleader's incredible talent.