NFL’s First Transgender Cheerleader Fights Against North Carolina’s Ban on Trans Women in Sports
Justine Lindsay, the NFL’s first transgender cheerleader, is speaking out against North Carolina’s law that bans transgender women from competing in women’s sports. Lindsay, who joined the Carolina Panthers’ TopCats cheer squad in March 2022, sees her role as a way to pave the way for future generations.
In an interview with Elle, Lindsay compared her achievement of becoming a cheerleader to becoming a doctor or nurse. She stated, “Everything that I’m going through now, it’s bigger than me. No one is going to stop the show.”
Despite not being directly affected by the recent ban, Lindsay expressed her determination to fight against it. The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which has been enacted in 22 states including Florida, Idaho, and Arkansas, prohibits transgender women from competing against biological women in middle school, high school, and college.
The push to ban transgender athletes from women’s sports gained momentum after controversial victories by transgender athletes such as swimmer Lia Thomas in the NCAA championships. Lawmakers responded by passing laws restricting their inclusion.
Lindsay also revealed that she faced backlash when she joined the team, which coincided with the murders of two transgender women near the Panther’s stadium. Despite the challenges, Lindsay remains committed to her role as a figurehead in the transgender inclusion debate.
Reflecting on her impact, Lindsay said, “Everything that I’m going through now, it’s bigger than me. Did I think making the team would have that much impact? No, not at first.” She acknowledged both the support and backlash she received, including questions about her uniform.
Chris Crawford, Lindsay’s cheer squad teammate and one of two gay men who joined the team in November 2021, commented on the angry reaction to Lindsay’s inclusion. He noted that such reactions were not surprising in the South.
Lindsay’s journey to becoming an NFL cheerleader was not without struggles. She described herself as a socially awkward child who found solace in dancing. However, her rise to prominence coincided with escalating debates over transgender athletes and concerns about physical advantages they may have over biological women.
Champion cyclist Hannah Arensman, for example, left her sport after losing to a transgender cyclist. The issue gained attention when trans swimmer Lia Thomas became an NCAA champion. Experts have differing opinions on the matter, with some arguing that transgender women have an unfair advantage due to male development and puberty.
Despite the controversy, Lindsay remains steadfast in her fight for transgender inclusion in sports. She sees her role as setting the stage for future generations. Even trans figurehead Caitlyn Jenner, who won gold in the male decathlon at the 1976 Olympics, has criticized the success of transgender athletes, calling it contrary to the spirit of competition.
Justine Lindsay’s determination and resilience continue to inspire others as she fights for equality in sports.