Charlotte-based NFL team the Carolina Panthers have added a male cheerleader who identifies as a female to its roster of cheerleaders.
In an announcement this week through Instagram, Justine Simone Lindsay, who identifies as transgender, stated “you are looking at the newest member of the Carolina Panthers TopCats cheerleader’s as the first Transgender female.” [sic]
“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,” wrote Lindsay. “Also to my beautiful coach [Chandalae Lanouette] you are a special being that I truly cherish thank you taking that leap of faith on me to be apart 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,” the cheerleader added. “Thank you [TopCats] a dream come true.”
The TopCats cheerleading director Chandalae Lanouette confirmed the appointment in a statement to BuzzFeed.
“I just felt like when I posted it, whatever reaction I get from everyone, it does not matter,” Lindsay said in a quote to the publication. “And then my phone started blowing up.”
“Dreams are reality/Dreams can manifest by putting in the work/Dreams can be accomplished with a focused mind body and spirit/This is my reality this is my story/Own it believe in it and everything will fall into place,” Lindsay wrote in a separate post.
Lanouette said she was away of Lindsay’s transgender status through the cheerleading application, but insisted that the cheerleader’s “talent” earned Lindsay a place on the squad and not Lindsay’s “history-making.”
“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.
“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.’”