Justine Lindsay, NFL, Carolina TopCat, transgender

NFL’s First Openly Trans Cheerleader, Justine Lindsay, Talks First Season As Carolina TopCat

Justine Lindsay, a transgender person who came out publicly last year, has completed a full season with the Carolina TopCats as the first openly transgender cheerleader in the NFL.

HuffPost reported that the position has opened the opportunity for Lindsay to continue her passion for dance and make a change in the world as she enters her second season to cheer on the Carolina Panthers.

She made her historic announcement on Instagram about making the squad on March 30, 2022.

“Cat’s Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleaders,” she wrote and confirmed, “as the first Transgender female.” 

Lindsay’s announcement was also a coming-out moment to her followers and teammates. The dancer initially came out to family members years ago and kept her decision to transition in college on the low. “I’m just a regular person, but I just felt like, at the same time, I have a story to tell,” she said, according to HuffPost. 

The trailblazer’s rookie season has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows, but she believes she is in the right place to advocate for her community, especially with a rise in anti-transgender legislation.

TopCats coach Chandalae Lanouette was the only one who knew about Lindsay’s identity after she submitted her application. The coach shared that her decision to hire a transgender woman has been met with negative comments and questions. “She’s a phenomenal performer, without a shadow of a doubt,” Lanouette told HuffPost. “And that’s our job, on game day, is to make people watch us and to entertain them. And she could do that just by walking in a room.”

Hires such as Lindsay move the NFL closer to improving diversity and inclusion. “While improvement is evident, there must be an ongoing effort to break mobility barriers and establish a cultural norm of opportunity for all,” NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent Sr. said in an overview of the league’s 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report. “The NFL recognizes these challenges and is committed to taking practical steps to ensure concrete results.”

HuffPost noted that the transgender dancer has received messages from parents of LGBTQ+ kids that have been inspired by her story to be better parents.