New York judge overturns order banning transgender players from using county-run parks

An order banning transgender athletes from using county-run parks and fields on Long Island, New York, was overturned by a judge Friday after being challenged by a roller derby league.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman issued an executive order in February denying park permits to any women’s and women’s teams, leagues or organizations that allow transgender female athletes to participate. Blakeman held a press conference in March with Caitlyn Jenner, the 1976 Olympic gold medalist in the men’s decathlon before a gender transition, who endorsed the ban.

Blakeman’s reasoning for the decree stemmed from his efforts to ensure that female athletes could compete fairly in their respective sports, but Judge Francis Ricigliano ruled that he did not have the authority to issue the decree.

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Members of the Long Island Roller Rebels practice March 19, 2023 at United Skates of America in Seaford, New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

In his 13-page ruling, Ricigliano wrote that Blakeman’s order was intended to prevent transgender women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports in county parks, “despite the absence of corresponding legislation” granting it a such authority.

“In doing so, this Court finds that the County Executive acted beyond the scope of his authority as Chief Executive Officer of Nassau County,” Ricigliano wrote.

The league’s lawsuit was supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which said the decision overturned a harmful policy that attempted to “score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about women and men.” transgender girls.”

“This is a huge victory for all trans people in Nassau, especially our plaintiffs @LIRollerRebels,” the NYCLU wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“This decision sends a strong message that transphobic discrimination cannot and will not continue. We are pleased that the court considered this order for what it was: a harmful and hateful policy that has no place At New York.”

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Athletes on rollerblades

Caitlin Carroll, right, demonstrates her skills on Tuesday, March 19, 2023 at United Skates of America in Seaford, NY

Blakeman rejected the judge’s ruling, saying it did not address the merits of the case. The ruling does not address the civil rights arguments raised by either side, but instead focuses on the limits of the county executive’s powers.

“Unfortunately, girls and women are hurt by the court,” he wrote in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.

The Roller Rebels were one of those teams seeking a permit for county-owned rinks. The league allows anyone who identifies as a woman, and one transgender player is already on its roster.

State Attorney General Letitia James previously asked Nassau County to rescind the order, saying anti-discrimination laws were violated.

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Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner supported the measure. (AP Photo/Noé Berger)

She said Friday’s ruling was a “major victory.”

“In New York, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their gender identity or expression… My office will continue to work to ensure that every New Yorker is free to be who they are.” »

The issue of trans women’s involvement in women’s sports adds to the national debate surrounding one of the most controversial topics in sports.

Scott Thompson of Fox News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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