NY Attorney General Ordered to Halt Transgender Athlete Ban

Pixel-Shot / shutterstock.com
Pixel-Shot / shutterstock.com

New York Attorney General Letitia James has issued a cease-and-desist order to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, demanding the repeal of what she deems a “discriminatory and transphobic” executive order banning transgender athletes from participating in women’s and girls’ sports. The directive, signed on February 22nd, prevents transgender athletes from competing in girls’ or women’s sports leagues and teams at county facilities, making it the first county-wide prohibition of its kind in American history.

Attorney General James argues that the executive order violates New York law by discriminating against individuals based on their sex, gender, or identity. She asserts that the directive establishes a “clear violation” of civil and human rights law and could subject female athletes to “intrusive and invasive questioning” across more than 100 venues managed by the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Museums.

According to James, “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. This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order, or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.”

Not put off by the attorney general’s warning, Blakeman defends the executive order as necessary to ensure fairness in girls’ and women’s sports leagues. He emphasized that the ban applies only when a league or team explicitly identifies as a girls’ or women’s league. Blakeman argues that allowing biological males to compete in such leagues would undermine the essence of fair play.

Addressing reporters, Blakeman, who signed the order on February 22nd, stated, “What we are saying here today with our executive order is that if a league or team identifies themselves or advertises themselves to be a girls or women’s league or team, then biological males should not be competing in those leagues.”

Critics argue that the ban is part of a broader movement seeking to limit transgender athletes’ access to organized sports under the guise of fairness. Blakeman contends that the ban is meant to protect players from potential bullying, even though he failed to provide specific instances of such incidents occurring in Nassau County.

Several national and international sports leagues, including the esteemed International Olympic Committee, have laid down regulations mandating transgender women to meet specific hormone levels to participate in sports alongside cisgender women. This approach is seen as an attempt to strike a balance between inclusion and maintaining the fairness of competition.

Despite these regulatory efforts, health experts point out a notable absence of conclusive data regarding the physiological advantages or disadvantages of transgender women in sports. In the quest for clarity, one study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine did indicate that the athletic advantages of 46 trans women over their cisgender counterparts diminished with feminizing therapy. However, a noteworthy finding emerged, revealing a 9% faster mean run speed than cisgender women after one year of testosterone suppression.

While this particular study introduces a layer of complexity to the story, another examination, this time in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, sheds light on the ongoing lack of direct or consistent research conclusively suggesting transgender women possess an athletic advantage at any stage of their transition.

Despite the lack of reported incidents, Blakeman remains steadfast in his position, inviting Attorney General James or her office to meet with county attorneys to discuss the matter further. He also asserted that the county has not encountered any issues with transgender athletes participating in section 8 athletics, according to Pat Pizzarelli of the Nassau County Public High School Athletic Association.

Attorney General James has given the county administration five days to revoke the order, warning of additional legal action if they fail to comply. During a press conference on Friday afternoon, Blakeman reiterated his commitment to the ban while expressing a willingness to engage in a legal discussion on the matter.

As the debate surrounding transgender athletes’ participation in sports continues, it remains to be seen how this clash between the New York Attorney General and the Nassau County Executive will unfold. The tensions highlight the ongoing struggle to balance fair play and inclusivity in organized sports, a challenge that has reverberated from professional leagues to local sports played for leisure.