Olympian Caitlyn Jenner endorses Blakeman’s trans ban

Olympian Caitlyn Jenner endorses Blakeman’s trans ban
Caitlyn Jenner spoke alongside Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman in Mineola Monday. (Screencap by Taylor Herzlich)

Olympic gold medalist and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner, who famously transitioned in the public eye, endorsed Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s ban on transgender girl and women athletes during a press conference Monday in Mineola.

The executive order signed by Blakeman Feb. 22 bars transgender girl and women athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at county facilities.

“I flew here this morning to stand with Nassau County in their fight for the protection of women and girls in sports,” said Jenner. “Let’s lead the way for all sports.”

Jenner touted her years of experience as an athlete, saying she “worked with everybody,” from fellow athletes to advertisers to politicians. And over the years, she said she has seen the improvement in protections for women, specifically the implementation of Title IX.

Title IX, which was passed in 1972, is an education amendment that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities. The title expanded women’s participation in education programs and school athletics.

Jenner pointed to “massive advantages and undeniable differences from male development” for transgender girl and women athletes, saying that even transgender girl and women athletes who have undergone hormone treatments and surgeries should not be allowed to compete in girl and women sports.

David Kilmnick, the president of the New York LGBT Network, called Jenner’s arguments hypocritical.

“Caitlyn Jenner’s support for anti-LGBT initiatives stands as a baffling contradiction to her own identity and the struggles she has faced as a transgender woman,” said Kilmnick in a statement. “It is disheartening to witness someone who has experienced the challenges of being marginalized actively contribute to the oppression of others within the same community.”

Jenner said she is just trying to protect women from harm.

“[The] biological realities that exist … lead to physical harm when trans women, or biological males, compete in sports against women,” said Jenner.

She recalled a North Carolina high school volleyball player, Payton McNabb, who  received a concussion after being spiked in the head during a game by a transgender athlete. Jenner said the average volleyball spike for men is 82 miles per hour, while the average spike for women is 64 miles per hour.

She opposed President Joe Biden’s proposed changes to Title IX, which would prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, not just sex. If these proposals were to go into effect, Blakeman’s executive order would be in violation of Title IX.

Blakeman accused transgender girl and women athletes who join women’s sports of bullying, but Kilmnick argued it is transgender students who are bullied.

“Jenner’s alignment with such positions not only perpetuates discrimination but also adds fuel to the rising number of violent and hate incidents committed against transgender individuals,” said Kilmnick.

Most recently, an LGTBQ teenager in Oklahoma died Feb. 8, just one day after an alleged fight in the high school bathroom. Nex Benedict, 16, reportedly used both he/him and they/them pronouns. His mother, Sue Benedict, told The Independent that Nex told her that they were bullied because of their gender identity.

And when asked to name a single transgender athlete in Nassau County who attempted to play on one of these county-protected school athletic teams, Blakeman could not give a name.

Instead, Blakeman said he has heard from a lot of women and girls that they are unhappy about transgender girls’ and women’s involvement in sports. Blakeman emphasized that these measures are meant to be preventative.

“One of [these women] said to me, ‘Do we have to get injured before anybody takes any action?’” said Blakeman. “You don’t have to wait to get punched in the nose to take action in government.”

Blakeman said his executive order is “not anti-trans” and that it has one goal: to ensure fair competition for women and girls. He called Nassau County a “welcoming” and “loving” place and said that transgender boy and men athletes can compete on boys’ and men’s teams because there is no fairness issue involved.

He believes his order will be deemed legal because women and girls are a protected class in the Constitution.

Most recently, the executive order was challenged by the New York Civil Liberties Union and Long Island Roller Rebels, a women’s roller derby league, when they filed a lawsuit March 11 against Blakeman.

The suit calls Blakeman’s executive order “discriminatory” and “unlawful,” arguing that the order violates New York’s Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law as well as guidance from the state Education Department.

The Long Island Roller Rebels, which are based in Massapequa, currently have at least one league member who would be prohibited from participating in their league under the executive order, according to the lawsuit.

“We try to be open to people of all types and this order really shuts down the possibilities for our league to grow,” Roller Rebels player and team Vice President Curly Fry told Newsday.

After Blakeman signed the executive order, New York State Attorney General Letitia James issued a cease-and-desist letter to Blakeman demanding that he rescind the order.

“We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” said James. “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal.”

In response, Blakeman and the Floral Park parents of a 16-year-old girls’ volleyball player filed a federal lawsuit against James.

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