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

MINEOLA, N.Y. — A county executive in the New York City suburbs has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a state order demanding he rescind a controversial ban on transgender athletes competing in girls and women’s sports.

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

The Republican argues that forcing him to rescind his Feb. 22 executive order denies “biological females’ right to equal opportunities in athletics” as well as their “right to a safe playing field” by exposing them to increased risk of injury if they’re forced to compete against transgender women.

Blakeman is slated to hold a news conference at his office in Mineola on Wednesday along with a 16-year-old female volleyball player who lives in Nassau County and her parents who are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

James’ office didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the litigation.

The Democrat on Friday had threatened legal action if Blakeman didn’t rescind the order in a week, arguing in her letter that the local order violates New York’s anti-discrimination laws and subjects women’s and girls sports teams to “intrusive and invasive questioning” and other unnecessary requirements.

“The law is perfectly clear: You cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” James said at the time.

Blakeman argues in his lawsuit that the order does not outright ban transgender individuals from participating in any sports in the county. Transgender female athletes will still be able to play on male or co-ed teams, he said.

Blakeman’s order requires any sports teams, leagues, programs or organizations seeking a permit from the county’s parks and recreation department to “expressly designate” whether they are male, female or coed based on their members’ “biological sex at birth.”

It covers more than 100 sites in the densely populated county next to New York City, from ballfields to basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools and ice rinks.

The executive order followed scores of bills enacted in Republican-governed states over the past few years targeting transgender people. ___

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


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