Give us an L! Give us a B! Give us a B-T-Q-I-A-plus! The sport of American football has a reason to wave the rainbow flag during Pride month because Justine Lindsay is the NFL’s first openly transgender cheerleader. Lindsay, 29, is part of the Carolina Panthers’ TopCats cheerleading squad, bringing poise, grace, and beauty to the team ahead of the 2022-23 season. As the Panthers prep and the TopCats ready themselves to cheer the team on, here’s what you need to know about Justine.
Justine Lindsay Is A Professional Cheerleader
“This is big,” Justine told Buzzfeed News in her first interview since scoring the spot on the TopCats squad. “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.”
“I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings,'” Lindsay added. “‘We are actual human beings who want to better ourselves.’ I felt like, Why not tell the world: ‘Hey, listen, this is a great accomplishment.'”
Justine said she watched CMT’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team as part of her prep and noticed that the women’s appearance played a major part in their selection. She was relieved when her coach said she could keep her bald head and was happy to “inspire other young girls who may be insecure rocking their bald look.”
Chandalae Lanouette, the Topcats’ director, said Justine had disclosed that she was trans on her application but said that it was Lindsay’s talent that got her the job. “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,” said Lanouette.
She Announced She Joined The Team In March
Though the world reacted to Justine joining the team in June – aka Pride Month – she had been part of the team for months by then.
“Cats Out the Bag,” Justine captioned a March 30 IG photo, one of her posing on the field of Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. “You are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female. I would like to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who supported me along the way, alumni TopCats family and friends, for your love and support. I would not have gotten to this moment in my life if it wasn’t for the support.”
“I was so scared,” Lindsay told BuzzFeed News about posting the Instagram. “There’s just some things you can’t post. I just felt like when I posted it, whatever reaction I get from everyone, it does not matter. And then my phone started blowing up.”
She Is A Podcaster
Justine shares her journey on Keeping It Sweet, her “modern millennial podcast that discusses a plethora of topics, ranging from Relationships, politics, celebrity Tea, trendy Clothes and reality Tv drama, etc.” Justine wrote that her podcast is “fun,” and “full of ups [and] downs,” but mostly, it’s about learning, loving, and “understanding that you have to be willing to open your minds to the possibilities.”
She Received Recognition From 50 Cent
Justine got a bit of support and approval from 50 Cent. Fiddy, 46, reacted to one of the headlines about Justine on Sunday, June 5. “I guess the NFL is looking to spread its wings,” he wrote in a now-deleted post, according to Hot New Hip Hop. 50 also argued for more inclusion on the field. “Why not a transgender player, though? I hope this is not for press.”
She Will Not Be Scared Off The Team
With all of the press surrounding her appointment to the team, Justine faced a lot of increased hate from those who wouldn’t want to see a transgender cheerleader. Thankfully, Justine seems well versed in paying these trolls no mind.
“Thank you to all my haters who think I’m bringing the organization down. Clearly, I don’t,” she wrote on June 6. “The Carolina Panthers Organization is an excellent one, one that supports all people white, black, yellow trans, straight, etc. at the end of the day, myself and the other 29 members @topcats made the squad fair and square. So what if I’m [trans]? 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,” she added. “So please mind your manners and understand that if you can’t say anything nice, please keep it to yourself.”