Trans woman, black and without a leafy hair falling on the shoulders. What in another time would have been a reason for ignoring or rejecting an NFL cheerleader, today draws the attention of the American sports association, which has included Justine Lindsay as one of the 29 cheerleaders of the Carolina Panthers team, founded in 1993 and with location in North Carolina.
The 29-year-old cheerleader recently announced on Instagram that she was joining the Topcats, the cheerleading squad for the Carolina Panthers, and revealed that she was transgender, the first to openly do so in a sports league that demands archetypal beauty standards from its cheerleading squads, with women thin or voluptuous. “Women are expected to perform like athletes but look like pin-up models,” a Buzz Feed reporter told Lindsay in an interview.
“This is a moment I will never forget and I can’t wait to show you all that this girl has to offer,” the cheerleader said in her post. Until now, only her family was aware that she was trans, because even for her best friend and her classmates it had been a secret. Her statement – although there is no record in the NFL – makes her the first openly trans woman in that sports society.
“Thank you to all my enemies who think I’m bringing the organization down; clearly not so. The Carolina Panthers organization is excellent, it supports all people who are white, black, yellow, trans, straight, etc. At the end of the day, I and the other 29 members of the Topcats formed the squad fairly, ”he said on June 6 in his networks in response to questions about his statement.
However, the news has allowed him to send an enthusiastic message to the world’s trans community. “This is big,” he told Buzz Feed. “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.”
It’s a statement, the Panthers said their cheerleaders were hired “based on their qualifications and skills.” “Our organization is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, color, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or national origin. We wish all the TopCats, including Justine Lindsay, an amazing season.”added the statement.
Lindsay was also supportive of her coach telling her she could keep her hair short, so she was happy to “inspire other young girls who may feel insecure about looking bald.”
The cheerleader also claims to be “paving the way for those who are below and scared and afraid to take that step, because it is not easy when you have ignorant people who have not lived the same as us making comments. I will continue to be a pioneer. I will continue to inspire and help my beautiful black trans sisters until my last breath.”
NFL cheerleaders often represent their respective teams at multiple community, business, or fundraising events.
The first openly gay player just last year
Justine’s case is not the first to demonstrate that there are winds of openness in a sport usually associated with masculine and testosterone culture.
Last year, Carl Nassib, a player for the Las Vegas Raiders, publicly declared himself gay, a message that was applauded even by President Joe Biden himself.
Nassib, then with 6 seasons playing in the NFL, was the first active player to come out as gay in American football history.
Despite the notoriety he gained thanks to his coming out of the closet, his team announced this year that he was presiding over his services, after a last season that experts had described as unsuccessful. Nassib has not yet announced the signing with another team to date.