Democrats blast Blakeman banning transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in Nassau County

Democrats blast Blakeman banning transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in Nassau County
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed an executive order that bars transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams at county facilities. (Photo by Karen Rubin)

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signed an executive order Thursday morning barring transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams that play at county facilities.

“It’s very important to me as county executive that we set a tone and tenor of respect for all people,” Blakeman said. “However, what we are finding out in the last few months is that there is a movement for biological males to bully their way into competing in sports or leagues or teams that identity themselves or advertise themselves as girls or female or women’s teams or leagues. We find that unacceptable.”

Surrounded by young girls holding signs reading “protect women’s sports,” some wearing athletic attire and most elementary school-aged, Blakeman announced and signed his executive order Thursday morning.

The county executive said all sports teams using Nassau County facilities have to register under three categories, men’s and boys’, women’s and girls’ and co-ed.

Blakeman said that he is not aware of any incidents involving transgender athletes in Nassau County, but that the order is to get the county “ahead of the curve.”

Blakeman also said he did not know how many transgender athletes are competing in Nassau County, but that overall transgender people make up 0.5%-1% of the county’s population.

With a low number of transgender people living in the county, of which it is uncertain how many are competing in sports, Blakeman said this concerns a national issue.

Under the executive order, transgender girl and women athletes will now be forced to compete in the leagues that correlate with their sex assigned at birth, limited to competing only on boys’ and men’s teams or co-ed teams.

“So this is not precluding anybody from participating in sports,” Blakeman said. “…It’s identifying that there are women and girls who spend a tremendous amount of time and effort to excel and compete in their sports that are women’s sports.”

The county executive said the purpose of the executive order is to protect women’s and girls’ sports in the county by preventing transgender girls and women athletes from competing.

Blakeman said transgender women present an unfair advantage when competing in women’s sports, calling it a form of bullying.

The ban only concerns transgender girls and women, as Blakeman said there is no advantage for transgender boys and men to compete on boys’ and men’s teams.

State Attorney General Letitia James and the New York Civil Liberties Union condemned Blakeman’s executive order, with both saying they intended to look into the legality of the ban.

“This executive order is transphobic and deeply dangerous,” James said in a statement. “In New York, we have laws that protect our beautifully diverse communities from hate and discrimination of any and every kind. My office is charged with enforcing and upholding those laws, and we stand up to those who violate them and trespass on the rights of marginalized communities. We are reviewing our legal options.”

Bobby Hodgson, Director of LGBTQ Rights Litigation for the state’s civil liberties union, called the executive order illegal in a statement and said the union will be seeking out ways to strike it down.

“Requiring girls who are trans to compete on boys’ teams effectively bars them from sports altogether,” Hodgson said. “Participating would mean being outed and being denied the same opportunities other girls enjoy: to challenge themselves, improve fitness, and be part of a team of their peers. At its heart, this order is an attempt to shut trans people out of public spaces. In the wake of growing attacks against LGBTQ+ rights nationwide, we must defend trans people’s rights, uphold New York law, and ensure their equal participation in all aspects of life, including sports.”

Robert Zimmerman, who lost to former Rep. George Santos in the 2022 congressional race – the first to feature two openly gay candidates – slammed Blakeman’s executive order in a Facebook post.

“At a time when transgender youth face a suicide rate of almost 40% and violence against LGBTQ young people is at new heights, Bruce Blakeman’s illegal and dangerous Executive Order contributes to dividing people and threatening vulnerable young people,” Zimmerman wrote.

He said he has faith in James to fight back against this ban.

Many organizations representing civil rights and LGBTQ+ interests were present at the Nassau County Legislative building, rallying against the executive order.

Present was the National Organization for Women (NOW) Nassau County, which called Blakeman’s administration focused on “culture wars rather than improving the lives of Nassau County residents.”

“Trans women are women. Trans girls are girls. Full stop,” Patrica Pastor, Nassau NOW president, said. “Blakeman’s thinly veiled attempt at publicity not only violates the spirit of fairness and inclusion in sports but is a tired and long-standing approach to divide us. We won’t let that happen. We stand with the Trans community today and always.”

Melanie D’Arrigo, vice president of Nassau’s National Organization for Women and co-founder of LGBTQ+ group Be The Rainbow, echoed that transgender women and girls are women and girls and the county executive’s order is intended to violate the “spirit of fairness” and divide communities.

“County Executive Blakeman’s discriminatory order does not protect women. It protects bigots,” D’Arrigo said. “Instead of using his administration to serve the residents of Nassau County, he is attacking marginalized kids. It’s an egregious abuse of power and a pathetic attempt to weaken the LGBTQIA+ community and the women’s movement. We will not be shaken nor deterred.”

A petition has been started by the LGBT Network, a Queens and Long Island-based LGBTQ+ nonprofit, to end the transgender ban in Nassau County that the organization called illegal.

Addressing backlash from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, Blakeman said that not everyone within the LGBTQ+ community supports transgender girls competing on girls’ sports teams.

“And I would suspect that there is a large group of lesbians who support us because they worked very, very hard to be taken seriously as athletes and to be treated fairly,” Blakeman said.

The county executive’s order was met with a slew of backlash, not only from protestors and organizations present at the signing of the order but also by local officials denouncing his action.

State Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) called Blakeman’s order an attempt to make headlines she said she fears will result in a “culture of hate” directed at transgender children.

“Words matter. Far too often, hateful rhetoric leads to hateful action,” Sillitti said, referencing the recent death of a transgender teen in Oklahoma after allegedly being attacked in a school bathroom.

Nassau County Legislative Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said Blakeman’s order is another example of his self-promotion.

In support of Blakeman and his executive order include newly elected Republican Nassau County District 18 Legislator Samantha Goetz and Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (NY-04).

“Preserving women’s sports is just common sense,” D’Esposito said in a statement. “Every American deserves respect, but we can’t deny that there are differences between biological males and females.”

Nassau County has almost 100 sports facilities throughout the county catering to a variety of sports.

Blakeman said some of the county facilities are utilized by local schools and colleges, both public and private. This order would then apply to the students at these schools.

Ahead of the county’s busy summer sports season, Blakeman said this order will be implemented for leagues applying for permits currently.

When asked what prompted this order, Blakeman signaled to a national issue.

The county executive said this executive order had been discussed over the past few months and was backed by his legal team’s research. He said he is not aware of any policy in New York State that would strike down his executive order.

Despite the executive order barring transgender girls and women athletes from competing on female sports teams in the county, Blakeman said Nassau County is accepting of all lifestyles.

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  1. Pointless grandstanding by Blakeman to pander to the bigoted base. No one undergoes years of hormone therapy and surgery in order to “bully their way into girls sports” and there is zero evidence that this is an issue.

  2. Bruce Blakeman is in his Fascist finest, with Republicans Goose-stepping their way right into 1939.

    Instead of banning transgender sports, how about we ban Republicans from holding public office? There is no place for their bigotry and Transphobia in a free and democratic nation, let alone a civilized society.


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