County exec sues New York over an order to rescind his ban on transgender female athletes

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A Republican official in suburban New York City who banned transgender athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports has asked a federal court to confirm that he has the power to enforce the ban.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in a lawsuit Tuesday that Attorney General Letitia James’ “cease and desist” letter violates the U.S. Constitution’s “equal protection” clause, which is enshrined in the 14th amendment.

He argued that rescinding his Feb. 22 executive order would deny biological women’s “right to equal opportunity in athletics” and their “right to a safe playing field” by exposing them to an increased risk of injury if they are forced to compete. against transgender women.

“We set out this policy because of the unfair competitive advantage that men have,” Blakeman said Wednesday during a news conference at his office in Mineola. “They are bigger, faster and stronger. It’s a scientific fact.”

He was accompanied by a 16-year-old female volleyball player who lives in Nassau County and her parents, who are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

James’ office on Wednesday reiterated previous statements calling the order “transphobic and discriminatory.”

On Friday, James threatened legal action if Blakeman did not withdraw the order within a week, arguing that the local order violates New York’s anti-discrimination laws and subjects women’s and girls’ sports teams to “intrusive and invasive interrogations” and other unnecessary demands.

Blakeman countered Wednesday that federal law takes precedence over state law.

In any case, he argued, the order does not outright ban transgender people from participating in any sport in the province, as transgender female athletes will still be able to play on male or co-ed teams.

“Transgender athletes have many opportunities to compete,” he said. “So we don’t exclude anyone, we don’t deny anyone.”

Blakeman said that so far no teams have applied for a license under the new order, which took effect immediately as licensing for seasonal sporting events only continues to increase.

He also said he is not aware of any local teams trying to include transgender athletes in women’s sports.

“It hasn’t happened yet, but do we need something to happen before we take action?” Blakeman said. “Absolutely not.”

Blakeman’s order requires all sports teams, leagues, programs or organizations that apply for a permit from the county Parks and Recreation Department to “explicitly designate” whether they are male, female or female based on the “biological sex at birth’ of their members.

It covers more than 100 locations in the densely populated county adjacent to New York City, from ball fields to basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools and ice skating rinks.

The executive order followed dozens of bills passed in Republican-controlled states in recent years that targeted transgender people. ___

Associated Press reporter Michael Hill in Albany, New York contributed to this story.


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