The National Football League hired its first openly transgender cheerleader, 29-year-old Justine Lindsay.
Lindsay came out as trans when she announced on Instagram that she was joining the cheerleading squad for the Carolina Panthers’ TopCats.
“This is big,” she told BuzzFeed News. “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.”
In her post, Lindsay said she was terrified to come out as trans online. She even kept her gender identity a secret from her best friend.
“I was so scared,” she told BuzzFeed of the post. “There’s just some things you can’t post.”
“I just felt like when I posted it, whatever reaction I get from, everyone, it doesn’t matter,” Lindsay continued. “And then my phone started blowing up.”
TopCats director Chandalae Lanouette told the news outlet it was Lindsay’s skill as a cheerleader that got her on the team.
“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.
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