Judge: Long Island Leader Had No Authority for Trans Ban

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's EO that barred female trans athletes was struck down
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2024 9:30 AM CDT
Judge Overturns Long Island County's Ban on Trans Athletes
Caitlin Carroll, right, demonstrates skills on March 19, 2023, at United Skates of America in Seaford, New York.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon, File)

A New York judge on Friday struck down a Long Island county's order banning female transgender athletes after a local women's Roller Derby league challenged it. Judge Francis Ricigliano ruled that Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman didn't have the authority to issue his February executive order, which denies park permits to any women's and girls teams, leagues, or organizations that allow female transgender athletes to participate.

  • Ruling: Ricigliano wrote in his 13-page decision that Blakeman's order was aimed at preventing transgender women from participating in girls and women's athletics in county parks, "despite there being no corresponding legislative enactment" providing him with such authority, per the AP. "In doing so, this court finds the county executive acted beyond the scope of his authority as the chief executive officer of Nassau County," Ricigliano wrote.

  • Roller Derby pushback: The Long Island Roller Rebels league had filed suit after it applied for a permit to host a slate of games at roller rinks in various county parks this summer that it's used in previous years for practices and other events. The Nassau County-based league, which was founded in 2005, said it welcomes "all transgender women, intersex women, and gender-expansive women" and has at least one league member who would be prohibited from participating under the county's order.
  • Blakeman's argument: He'd maintained that the ban was meant to protect girls and women from getting injured if they're forced to compete against transgender women. It impacted more than 100 athletic facilities in the densely populated county next to New York City, including ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, and ice rinks. However, in its suit, the Roller Derby league argued that the state's human rights and civil rights statutes explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.
  • Reaction: Amanda Urena, president of the Long Island Roller Rebels, said the judge's decision sends a "strong message" against discrimination. "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. "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."
  • NYCLU: The New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the suit on behalf of the league, said the decision overturned a harmful policy that attempted to "score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about transgender women and girls."
  • Blakeman's take: The county exec dismissed the judge's decision as one that didn't address the merits of the case. The ruling doesn't delve into the civil rights arguments raised by both sides, instead focusing on the limitations of the county executive's powers. "Unfortunately, girls and women are hurt by the court," he wrote in an emailed statement. More here.
(More transgender rights stories.)

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