Nassau Republican Pols Introduce Legislation Banning Transgender Athletes From Women’s Sports

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced legislation to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports in Nassau County on Friday.
Long Island Press Photo

If at first you don’t succeed, try again?

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and the presiding officer of the Republican-majority Nassau County Legislature introduced legislation that aims to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports after the courts struck down Blakeman’s executive order that sought to do the same thing.

“The legislation will basically codify what was in my executive order that I issued on February 22,” Blakeman told reporters, touting it as the first of its kind in the nation. “It protects women and girls in athletic competitions. First of all, biological males competing against females is unfair, because biological males are bigger, faster and stronger in most cases, and we know this. That’s why there’s a WNBA and an NBA. That’s why there’s a PGA and an LPGA. That’s why there’s the women’s tennis tour and the men’s tennis tour.”

That executive order garnered a mixture of support and controversy. Caitlyn Jenner – who won the Olympic decathlon competing as a male at the 1976 Montreal competition – came to Nassau to express her support for the plan, while New York State Attorney General Letitia James called the move illegal. Blakeman sued James for saying so, but the case was dismissed.

Additionally, Long Island Roller Rebels, a women’s roller derby league, sued the county over the move, and New York State Judge Francis Ricigliano eventually struck down Blakeman’s executive order, writing there was “no corresponding legislative enactment” giving him the authority to make the order.

Now Blakeman is trying to push it through the legislature, where his party holds a 12-7 majority. Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence), the legislative presiding officer, joined Blakeman to support the measure.

While no biological – or cisgender – woman has received sports-related injuries due to competing against a transgender athlete in Nassau, Blakeman cited an event in North Carolina, where a cisgender female volleyball player sustained injuries from a ball spiked by a transgender woman, as reason for the bill.

“This is not anti transgender, this is pro-women and pro-girls,” Blakeman said. “It’s a fairness and safety issues. Now people say, ‘What about biological males who identify as transgender females?’ Fine, you can compete on a co-ed team where everybody knows it’s men and women playing together. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can compete on a biological male team, so you’re competing on an equal standing, and you can form your own league. We have no problem with a transgender league here in Nassau County.”

In addition to Kopel, Blakeman was joined in support by Legislators Rose Marie Walker (R-Seaford), Samantha Gaetz (R-Locust Valley), John Giuffre (R-Mineola), and County Comptroller Elaine Phillips. But he’s already facing some pushback on the legislation.

“It is crucial to remind everyone that the New York State Attorney General has already deemed this proposal blatantly illegal,” Minority Leader Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said. “Passing such a law will only cost the county millions in legal fees and taxpayer money, funds that should be used for repaving our roads and providing tax relief. The residents of Nassau County were promised tax reductions, lower fees, and a more equitable property assessment system. Instead, they have been burdened with a county executive more focused on stirring up controversy and diverting attention from real issues.”

The New York Civil Liberties Union also released a statement blasting the move.

“While we have not yet reviewed any actual legislative text, it is abundantly clear that any attempt to ban transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports is prohibited by our state’s antidiscrimination law,” staff attorney Gabriella Larios said. “It was true when we successfully struck down County Executive Blakeman’s transphobic policy and it is true now. If the Nassau County legislature continues to push forward on such harmful legislation, we will see them in court.”

Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) blasted Blakeman’s legislation.Long Island Press Photo