The NFL has its first transgender cheerleader.
Justine Lindsay, 29, first shared the news about her new gig in March, but that post was also groundbreaking for another reason: it was her coming out, in which she not only let her new teammates know she is trans, but the rest of her community, as well.
“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female,” she wrote.
She went on to thank the TopCats family, her coach, and other dancers for their encouragement along the way.
“I would not have gotten to this moment in my life if it wasn’t for the support,” she added. “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.”
Lindsay will now represent the Panthers at community events, conferences and fundraisers.
“I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings,’” Lindsay told Buzzfeed News. “‘We are actual human beings who want to better ourselves.’”
Lindsay couldn’t be prouder to knock down barriers as a Black trans woman.
“I think more people need to see this,” she said. “It’s not because I want recognition. It’s just to shed light on what’s going on in the world.”
She shared her Buzzfeed story in an Instagram post, giving a special shoutout to all the “haters” who think she’s bringing the organization down.
“The Carolina Panthers Organization is an excellent one, one that supports all people: white, black, yellow trans, straight, etc.” she wrote.
“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,” she added. “I will continue to be that pioneer, I will continue to inspire and help my African American beautiful trans sisters until my last breath.”
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