Judge Strikes Down Transgender Athlete Ban in New York County

A judge has nullified an executive order from Nassau County, New York, which banned male players from competing at county-run facilities in any league that didn’t match their biological sex or wasn’t coed or mixed.

In a ruling issued on May 10, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Francis Ricigliano stated that Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman lacked the authority to enact the transgender athlete ban without corresponding approval from the Nassau County Legislature.

“Precedent has repeatedly established that an executive cannot enact his/her own view of what persons should be protected from discrimination without regard to laws enacted by the legislature,” the judge wrote.

Mr. Blakeman issued the executive order on Feb. 22, prohibiting the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums from issuing permits for the use of county facilities for competitions or sports events in which males participate in female-designated teams and leagues. The ban only applied to female-identifying males while allowing the department to issue permits for events in which women compete in men’s leagues or events.

“There is a movement for biological males to bully their way into competing in sports or leagues or teams that identify themselves or advertise themselves as girls’ or female or women’s teams or leagues,” Mr. Blakeman said at a Feb. 22 press conference, explaining the rationale for the ban.

“We find that unacceptable. It’s a form of bullying,” he said at the time.

Mr. Blakeman also argued that allowing female-identifying males to compete in women’s sports poses a safety risk to female competitors due to men’s generally superior strength and size, while also depriving women of opportunities.

The move drew backlash, with New York Attorney General Letitia James threatening to sue if the ban wasn’t overturned, prompting Mr. Blakeman to sue Ms. James, accusing her of unconstitutional discrimination.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) sued Mr. Blakeman over the order on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels, a recreational women’s flat track roller derby league that welcomes female-identifying males to participate in its activities.

The plaintiffs argued that the executive order violated numerous laws and, according to Curly Fry, a member of Roller Rebels, was “transphobic and unjust.”

Gabriella Larios, staff attorney at the NYCLU, said in a statement that the group is “gratified that the court has struck down a harmful policy that belongs in the dustbin of history.”

Blakeman stated to media outlets that he disagrees with the ruling.

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“Lack of courage from a Judge who didn’t want to decide the case on its merits. Unfortunately, girls and women are hurt by the Court” he said.

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By Hunter Fielding
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