The National Football League is not exactly known as the most progressive of the major sports leagues. That is why it is remarkable that the Carolina Panthers recently hired the first-ever openly transgender cheerleader in league history. Justine Lindsay made the announcement via Instagram and is excited to get started.

The 29-year-old was officially hired as a member of the Topcats, the official cheer squad for the Panthers, in late March. Justine has been laying low since then. In a recent interview with BuzzFeed, she finally opened up about how difficult it was to publicly announce such historic news.

“I was so scared. 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.”

The director of the Topcats, Chandale Lanouette, said that while Lindsay noted that she was transgender on her application, that’s not what mattered. When Lanouette made the hire, the first thing in mind was to create an exciting and dynamic team. It was talent and charisma that scored Justine Lindsay the job, not her gender.

Justine breaks the mold for NFL cheerleaders in many ways. While many teams still gravitate towards white talent and base things on a “traditional” appearance, Lindsay is a black trans woman with a bald head. She said she is happy her unique look can inspire young girls to be themselves.

Justine Lindsay has broken new ground in a world usually reserved for people who aren’t like her on the outside. She will now look to prove that it’s about character and talent above all else. Congratulations are for Justine for breaking down one of the toughest barriers in all of sports.

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Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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