Blakeman Draws Backlash With Executive Order

Criticism rolls in over order targeting trans athletes
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman is once again facing widespread criticism, particularly from local Democrats, after signing an executive order that seeks to block trans women and girls from participating in competitive sports across the county.
On Thursday, February 22, Blakeman held a small rally, with the stated intent to “protect girls’ sports,” before unveiling the executive order, which effectively prevents athletes in Nassau County who were assigned “male” at birth from participating in girls’ or women’s sports.
According to the order, “any sports, leagues, organizations, teams, programs, or sports entities must expressly designate [male, female, or co-ed] based on the biological sex at birth of the team members/participants when applying for a use and occupancy permit to utilize Nassau County Parks property for the purposes of organization a sporting event or competition.” It goes on to state that the Nassau County Department of Parts, Recreation and Museums “shall not issue any permits for the use and occupancy of Nassau County Park’s property for the purposes of organizing a sporting event or competition that allows athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls to include biological males … [but] may issue permits … that allow athletic teams or sports for males, men, or boys to include biological females.”
That day and in the days that immediately followed, a long list of comments from local officials and groups condemning the order were made public (only some of which are included here).
“In a society that values freedom and opportunity, denying transgender and nonbinary athletes the chance to play on their school and community sports teams goes against the very essence of American principles,” said Devon Zappasodi, director of Long Island-based LGBTQ+ youth services and advocacy group PFY, in a statement.
Patricia Pastor, president of the National Organization for Women, Nassau County, commented, “Trans women are women. Trans girls are girls. Full stop. Blakeman’s thinly veiled attempt at publicity not only violates the spirit of fairness and inclusion in sports, but is a tired and long standing approach to divide us. We won’t let that happen. We stand with the Trans community today and always.”
Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “We’re proud New York has some of the nation’s strongest protections for the LGBTQ+ community and my administration is committed to enforcing these laws.”
Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti commented, “In recent years, we have seen repeated bigoted attacks on Long Island directed against the LGBTQ community and, luckily, our community has always rallied against it … Directing vitriol toward children should not and can never be tolerated.”
State Assemblymember Charles Lavine commented, “Many of us know children who don’t fit into Bruce Blakeman’s crude mindset about sexual orientation and gender identity … Shame on him for attacking those who can’t defend themselves.”
Legislator Arnold Drucker called the order “utterly reprehensible,” adding, “The equal protection of transgender people and other members of the historically marginalized LGBTQ+ community has been enshrined on the books in New York for years.”
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton commented that Blakeman “has been more interested in self promotion and spending public money on private golf outings, swanky galas and unrelated press conferences – such as [this] focus on legislating little leagues, which has nothing to do with his responsibilities.”
Bobby Hodgson, the New York Civil Liberties Union’s director of LGBTQ rights litigation, called the order “illegal” and “cynical,” adding “Requiring girls who are trans to compete on boys’ teams effectively bars them from sports altogether.”
Rebecca Goldaper, an English teacher at Glen Cove High School and an advisor to the Glen Cove High School Genders and Sexuality Alliance, commented to Anton Media Group, “Obviously, transgender students are a very small percentage of students, but they have as much right to play sports and to be included in a way that makes them feel included and accepted as anybody else. This also has an effect on all students … policing this requires sometimes intrinsic questions and inspections and things like that, because sometimes it isn’t immediately clear who is, or who isn’t, trans. This really affects the privacy of all students.”
Goldaper continued, “I’m heartbroken. New York is a place where transgender people have a lot of rights … but it’s little things like this that cut away at the rights we do have. If I may, I think it’s also very interesting that once again, we find that trans women are particularly targeted by this law for this executive order, because I can’t help but notice that there’s no provision that says that trans boys can’t play in boys sports. And we once again have trans women like myself being treated as second-class citizens compared to even our other transgender peers.”
During a public comment session at the Nassau Legislature on the Monday following the rally and the signing of the executive order, several local residents weighed in on or made reference to the order. All spoke against it, all were women, and most were clearly angry or upset.
“What happened to Nassau County?” one woman asked. “This is not how you were raised … you’re not serving the people of Nassau County. Do your duty!”
Another said that Blakeman was frequently “off fighting culture wars whenever he can get an audience,” and advised legislators to review a particular county statute, which allows for the removal of a county exectutive, before asking, “Does this stuff make you proud?”
Oceanside resident Dawn Tauster spoke calmly but passionately about how Nassau County had felt like a safe, welcoming place for her and her family, both before and after her own transition, until that feeling was “shattered” by recent events.
“Blakeman and [Legislator Samantha] Goetz’s press conference was a total repudiation of the humanity of trans people, implying that we are cheaters, liars, and bullies. The message is obvious … the Nassau County GOP is going full bore on the anti-trans moral panic. And it is nothing but a moral panic.”
“In the decades where trans women have been playing sports with other women, we haven’t dominated, or even generally been that competitive. Contrary to Legislator Goetz’s claims, the biological process of transition serves to nullify the so-called advantages. But even dominant trans athletes don’t deserve these restrictions. We deserve to be accepted for who we are and not treated with scorn.”
Tauster continued, “And for Blakeman and Goetz to call trans people bullies, the very same week that news broke of the assault on and death of Nex Benedict, a [gender nonconforming] teen in Oklahoma, it’s clear that they want this county to be as hostile and harmful to trans people as any other.”
“After all, if they think I’m a lying, cheating, dangerous bully, what other rights of mine will they seek to take away?”
She concluded, “You will not take my rights without a fight, and that is a fight that you will lose.”
On March 1, New York Attorney General Letitia James followed up on her February 22 statement (which called the order “transphobic” and said her office was exploring its options) by demanding that Blakeman rescind the order. The same day, Blakeman said at a press conference that Nassau County “will abide by the law,” but also that his office believes the order is legal, and that “there may be a controversy with respect to this matter, which may have to be adjudicated sometime in the future.”

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