The NFL has its first openly transgender cheerleader who will be joining the squad for the Carolina Panthers’ TopCats.
Justine Lindsay, a 29-year-old male who identifies as a woman, told BuzzFeed News he is proud to “break down that door” for future trans athletes.
Linsday announced that he was joining the Topcats and also came out as trans to his teammates and the rest of his community in an Instagram post.
“Cats Out the Bag you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats Cheerleader’s @topcats as the first Transgender female,” the Instagram caption read.
NFL’s first transgender cheerleader, Justine Lindsay, 29, signs for Carolina Panthers.
Lindsay will now represent the Carolina Panthers at everything from community events and fundraisers to business conferences.https://t.co/ST44kXXAEn
— Dalton (@DaltonReport) June 6, 2022
“I was so scared,” Lindsay said, Buzzfeed reported. “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,” Lindsay added.
Though Lindsay is the first openly transgender cheerleader in the NFL, the Topcats director Chandalae Lanouette said that he was hired for his talent, not just because of his transgender identity.
“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, BuzzFeed reported.
The NFL had previously openly embraced the LGBTQ+ movement.
In June 2021, the league posted a video, “Football is for everyone,” highlighting the inclusivity of football for all people.
However, the announcement of Lindsay becoming a cheerleader is coming in the midst of controversy over the physical advantages that transgender athletes can have over female athletes.
The controversy has come into the spotlight with trans swimmer Lia Thomas. Thomas has been out-swimming the female competition, which has led doctors and athletic organizations to look more closely into the physical aspects of trans athletes.
At the end of May, doctors weighed in on the Thomas controversy and said that from a scientific standpoint, trans athletes who are male but identify as female have undeniable advantages.
“Lia Thomas is the manifestation of the scientific evidence,” Dr. Ross Tucker, a sports physiologist, told the New York Times. “The reduction in testosterone did not remove her biological advantage.”
Dr. Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a law professor at Duke University and a former track runner, said that bringing males into female sports also begins defeating the point of female sports.
“We are bringing a male body into a female sport,” Coleman told the Times. “Once you cross that line, there’s no more rationale for women’s sport.”
Despite these concerns that have arisen over trans athletes in female sports, the NFL is moving forward with Lindsay as a cheerleader.
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