Judge denies Blakeman’s request to permit county’s trans athlete restrictions

Judge denies Blakeman’s request to permit county’s trans athlete restrictions
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)

A federal judge denied County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s request Thursday to safeguard his executive order restricting trans athletes’ participation in sports in Nassau County from legal action by the New York State attorney general.

“This decision will not deter us from protecting the integrity and fairness of women’s sports and the safety of its participants,” Blakeman said in a statement. “According to the logic of the decision on the temporary restraining order, the county would have to wait for a young girl to get paralyzed before taking action.”

Blakeman signed an executive order Feb. 22 barring transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams that play at county facilities.

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a cease-and-desist order against Blakeman in March demanding he rescind the order.  The Nassau county executive sued James in federal court, but Judge Nusrat Choudhury ruled that the ban violated the Constitution’s 11th Amendment and Blakeman’s suit had no legal standing.

Under the executive order, transgender girl and woman 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.

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, saying transgender women and girls present an unfair advantage.

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

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

James assailed the executive order as discriminatory.

“The law is perfectly clear: you cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” James said. “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.”

The cease-and-desist letter, signed by the attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau Chief Sandra Park, said the executive order violates New York State anti-discrimination laws in discriminating against transgender women and girls.

James’ office said the executive order “effectively prohibits” transgender girls and women from participating on teams that coincide with their gender.

Blakeman in turn sued James for attempting to block his executive order in U.S. District Court, claiming that the anti-discrimination laws of New York violate the U.S. Constitution and asking the judge to prevent James from pursuing legal action.

Choudhury denied this suit, citing the Constitution’s 11th Amendment blocking local governments from suing the state government in federal court and a lack of legal standing for Blakeman’s suit.

“There are no facts in the record showing that any specific cisgender woman or girl in Nassau County will face imminent injury in an athletic event involving a transgender woman or girl on Nassau County Parks property if the executive order is invalidated,” Choudhury wrote.

A decision will be made on James’s request to dismiss the county’s lawsuit entirely later in April, the judge said.

In tandem with the attorney general’s lawsuit against the county, a Massapequa woman’s roller derby group – called the Long Island Roller Rebels – has also filed a suit against the executive order alleging discrimination.

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