Nassau County executive files suit to save his order banning trans women from sports

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is filing a lawsuit against state Attorney General Letitia James after she demanded that he rescind an executive order banning trans women from participating in women’s sport leagues at facilities run by the county.

Blakeman filed a 12-page lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday seeking a declaratory judgment. The lawsuit cites the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that no state shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The lawsuit also cites Title 9, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal financial assistance.

Blakeman said his executive order protects biological girls and women from “bullying” by “biological males” and supports “women’s equality in sports.”

“We don’t want 6-foot, 210-pound males competing against women and girls who are not that big, they’re not that strong,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “That’s an unfair competition. It’s dangerous. And we also don’t want biological males in the same locker rooms as biological females.”

The attorney general called Blakeman’s executive order “transphobic and discriminatory” and “blatantly illegal.” In a statement responding to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for James said, “This is not up for debate: the executive order is illegal, and it will not stand in New York.”

In her cease-and-desist letter to Nassau County last week, she threatened legal action against the county if he did not rescind the order by Friday. Her letter cited the New York Human Rights Law, which states it is illegal for places of public accommodation to discriminate based on sex or gender identity or expression. It also cites the Civil Rights Law that prohibits discrimination based on gender expression or identity.

There are more than 100 sports facilities in Nassau County that can be banned from using the space if they don’t comply with the new measure, which went into effect immediately.

Blakeman did not point to specific examples of issues with transgender women playing women’s sports in Nassau County, but said it’s in a government’s authority to take legal action before harm has been done.

“It is coming to Nassau County, it’s coming to all communities,” he said.

LGBTQ+ organizations criticized Blakeman’s measures.

David Kilmnick, president of New York LGBT Network on Long Island, said the issue of trans women athletes participating in sports is not one that should be determined by government entities. He said the lawsuit exacerbates an already disproportionate amount of bullying against the transgender community.

“It is sad and shocking that [Blakeman] is continuing his political stunt and illegal assault on the transgender community,” Kilmnick said in a statement. “The law in New York is clear; it protects the transgender community from discrimination and ensures equal participation in all aspects of their lives, including sports.”

Blakeman has used the executive order to exacerbate hot-button political issues in the past. In 2022, he issued an order halting mask enforcement for indoor venues, referring to “home rule” as a justification for defying Gov. Kathy Hochul’s statewide mask mandate.

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