History has been made in the NFL, as it was announced that Justine Lindsay is the league’s first openly transgender cheerleader.
On March 30, Justine, 29, took to Instagram to share the news that she had made the Carolina Panthers’ cheerleading squad, the TopCats.
“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. “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.”
In a recent interview with Buzzfeed News, Justine opened up about publicly coming out and explained that she was “so scared” to upload her post about her history-making spot on the team. She shared that at the time, only her family knew she was trans. But she recognized the significance of this moment for the trans community and the Black community, and also hoped to “inspire other young girls who may be insecure rocking their bald look.”
“This is big,” she told the outlet. “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.”
After the interview was published, Justine posted on Instagram to address the wave of transphobic hate she had received, and to affirm that cruel words and vitriol from “ignorant people” will not stop her in her mission to continue knocking down barriers for transgender athletes.
“Thank you to all my haters who think I’m bringing the organization down, clearly I don’t,” she captioned the post. “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,” Justine continued. “So please mind your manners and understand that if you can’t say anything nice please keep it to yourself.”
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