Justine Lindsay made history by becoming the first openly transgender cheerleader in NFL history, ESPN reports.
Lindsay took to Instagram to announce that she made the TopCats, the cheerleading squad for the Carolina Panthers.
“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female l, “her post read. “ I would like to thank the beautiful and talented dancers who supported me along the way, alumni of 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. Also to my beautiful coach @chandalaelanouette you are a special being that I truly cherish. Thank you for taking that leap of faith on me to be a part of your legacy and so many others. 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.”
Because of the limited data across the league, Lindsay may not actually be the first transgender cheerleader to make an NFL team, but she is the first person to be open about it.
Chandalae Lanouette, the TopCats director said that Lindsay wrote on her application that she was transgender.
“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,” Lanouette said.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Lindsay admitted she was “so scared” at first about her Instagram announcement back in March but is more comfortable now with her historic achievement.
“I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, ‘Hey, we are not just sexual beings,'” Lindsay said. “‘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.'”