News (USA)

Judge strikes down Long Island county’s anti-trans sports ban

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signing the anti-trans sports ban in February.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signing the anti-trans sports ban in February. Photo: Screenshot/NBC4

A New York judge overturned a Long Island county’s ban on trans women and girls participating in women’s and girls’ sports.

As the Associated Press reported, on Friday Judge Francis Ricigliano ruled that Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman (R) “acted beyond the scope of his authority” when he issued his February 22 executive order banning the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Museums from issuing permits to women’s and girls’ sports teams that include transgender athletes. The executive order would have affected 100 athletic facilities and would have been a de facto ban on trans women and girls participating in recreational sports in the county.

Ricigliano’s decision is the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels, a Nassau County-based women’s roller derby league, challenging Blakeman’s executive order. Citing New York’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and guidance from the state Division of Human Rights, the league argued in its lawsuit that Blakeman’s order constituted discrimination based on gender identity, which is explicitly prohibited in the state.

However, the judge’s ruling focused only on Blakeman’s authority as county executive to issue the anti-trans order.  

Blakeman himself criticized Ricigliano for his “lack of courage” in not deciding the case “on its merits.”

“The plaintiffs conceded that I had the authority to issue the Executive Order and the judge on his own went out of his way to avoid ruling on the merits,” Blakeman told the New York Post Saturday.

Blakeman has said he intends to appeal the ruling.

Still, Long Island Roller Rebels president Amanda Urena celebrated the ruling.

“Today’s decision is a victory for those who believe that transgender people have the right to participate in sports just like everyone else,” Urena said in a statement. “County Executive Blakeman’s order tried to punish us just because we believe in inclusion and stand against transphobia. Trans people belong everywhere, including in sports, and they will not be erased.”

In a separate case, a district court judge last month dismissed a lawsuit brought by Blakeman against New York Attorney General Letitia James after James said she would take legal action to block the executive order.

“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 in March. “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.”

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