NFL Cheerleader Justine Lindsay Hopes to 'Break Down That Door' for Trans Athletes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 7, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 19: A detail photo of a Carolina Panthers helmet during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Justine Lindsay became the NFL's first publicly out trans cheerleader when she made the Carolina Panthers' TopCats squad, and she hopes she can help remove barriers for her peers within the trans community.

Lindsay told BuzzFeed News' Paige Skinner she wants to "break down that door" for trans athletes.

"I’m happy because I was able to break down that door and tell people, 'Hey, we are not just sexual beings,'" she 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.'"

Lindsay's achievement comes as politicians across the country are targeting the trans community in youth sports. That's despite a lack of clear evidence as to whether transgender women have a physical advantage over cisgender women.

In March 2020, Idaho became the first state in the United States to ban transgender girls and women from female sports leagues with a law titled the "Fairness in Women’s Sports Act." Since then, multiple states have enacted similar legislation.

Most recently, Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban transgender women from competing in female leagues at the high school and college levels.

As part of the "Save Women's Sports Act," athletes could be required to undergo "full pelvic exams" to determine their biological sex. The bill has drawn widespread criticism.

Lindsay told Skinner she thought she could help improve the visibility of the trans community by representing the TopCats.

"This is big," she said. "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."