Transgender Athlete Ban in a Long Island County Is Struck Down in Court

A New York court on Friday struck down a Long Island county order that barred transgender women from playing on women’s sports teams at county-owned sports facilities.

The case had raised questions about whether the ban was legal under the state’s human rights law. But the ruling on Friday by Justice Francis Ricigliano of Nassau County Supreme Court turned on a technical issue: The county executive, Bruce Blakeman, had “acted beyond the scope of his authority as the chief executive officer of Nassau County” when he imposed the ban, Justice Ricigliano said.

The right to pass such laws is reserved for legislative bodies, and chief executives of local governments cannot “unlawfully infringe” on those rights, the ruling stated.

Gabriella Larios, a staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said on Friday that the decision “deals a serious blow to county executive Blakeman’s attempt to score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about transgender women and girls.”

On Saturday, Mr. Blakeman, a Republican, said in a statement to The New York Times that he would appeal the judge’s decision and “take all measures to protect the integrity of women’s sports.”

The executive order, which was issued by Mr. Blakeman in February, said that any sports leagues or organizations that wanted a permit to use a county parks department facility must designate their teams as male, female or coed based on members’ assigned sex at birth.

Mr. Blakeman said at the time that the order “will protect women and girls right to compete in sporting events in female leagues without biological males bullying their way onto those teams.” The ban drew national attention and was endorsed by Caitlyn Jenner, a longtime Republican, former Olympic athlete and reality television star who is transgender.

It came amid a nationwide push by conservative lawmakers to restrict the rights of transgender people as part of their political strategies. As of now, 24 states have enacted laws to bar transgender athletes from participating in sports aligned with their gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank that tracks L.G.B.T.Q. laws.

Nassau County’s order did not restrict transgender boys and men from competing on boys’ and men’s teams at county facilities.

In the ruling, Justice Ricigliano said that permit seekers “are free to allow persons on their teams on whatever basis they choose, as long as that basis is not prohibited by law.”

The executive order had drawn criticism from civil rights groups in the state. In March, the Long Island Roller Rebels, an adult roller derby league, sued the county over the order, saying the ban violated state civil rights law. The group is represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit from the derby league is not the only legal action targeting the order. The state attorney general, Letitia James, issued a cease and desist letter in March, calling the order “transphobic and blatantly illegal.” Ms. James threatened legal action if the executive order was not rescinded.

In response, Mr. Blakeman filed his own federal lawsuit, suing the attorney general and saying that he wanted a federal judge to rule on the order. The federal judge, Nusrat Choudhury, dismissed Mr. Blakeman’s case in April.

On Friday, Ms. James wrote on X that the ruling from the state court was “a major victory.”

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