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Jenner speaks at Blakeman's presser.

Blakeman Sued By Roller Derby, Hosts Celebrity Press Event

The Nassau County Executive is keeping busy on the girls and women’s sports front
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has remained in the news over the past couple of weeks after being sued by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) over his controversial February 22 executive order, then hosting Caitlyn Jenner at the Legislature for a semi-private press event a week later.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, filed against Nassau County on March 11, is the Long Island Roller Rebels, a Nassau County-based recreational women’s flat track roller derby league, which welcomes trans women. According to the team and their attorneys, the group is now barred from using Nassau County’s facilities under the broad-ranging new order, which immediately went into effect on Feb. 22.
“This cruel policy sends the dangerous message that trans people don’t belong in Nassau County,” said Curly Fry, a member of Roller Rebels, in a statement.
“As a league committed to building community and providing a safe space for everybody, we reject this policy, which bars us from public-run venues where we would otherwise play and practice just because we believe in inclusion and stand against transphobia. We hope the court sees this policy for what it is—transphobic and unjust—and makes sure Nassau County is a safe space for trans, non-binary, and gender-expansive people.”
Gabriella Larios, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement, “Nassau County’s cynical attempt to shut them out of public spaces is a blatant violation of our state’s civil and human rights laws. It also speaks to growing, nationwide attacks against LGBTQ+ rights, and we won’t stand for this hatred here in New York. As promised the day this executive order was issued, we’re taking action so that the courts relegate this harmful, transphobic policy to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.”
Larios, one of three NYCLU attorneys officially handling the case, said in a phone interview with Anton Media Group. “This is an order that discriminates against trans women and girls solely on the basis of their gender identity, and that is quintessential discrimination under our state’s anti-discrimination laws.”
“The Long Island Roller Rebels brought this lawsuit to ensure that they, as a team which welcomes trans women, can use county facilities without any limitation, as is their right. The team feels it is very important to fight this executive order because the longer it is in effect, the longer that trans people in Nassau County receive the message that they are not welcome there.
Larios also called Blakeman’s order particularly “egregious” against the backdrop of New York State established law, adding that it “up-ends the status quo as we know it with no real justification or reasoning that it’s legitimate.”
To that end, Blakeman has “repeatedly confirmed that he’s not aware of any examples in Nassau County of trans women or girls having a competitive advantage over any particular individuals,” Larios noted. Instead, by way of local explanation, Blakeman has pointed to the busy permit-issuing season for local recreation facilities being underway, she said.
“This applies to recreational teams as well as competitive ones, from a youth softball league, to a women’s roller derby team, to a charity organization holding a one-off tournament. We think this is an order where the real message is that trans people shouldn’t have a full life and participate in sports, that it’s not really grounded in any real, defensible justification.”
A week later, Executive Blakeman held a semi-private press conference on Monday, March 18 alongside Olympic gold-medalist Caitlyn Jenner at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.
“My executive order has one goal, and that is to make sure competition is fair and safe here in Nassau County and that we protect women and girls,” said Blakeman.
He introduced the former Olympian decathlete as an American hero not only in athletic competition, but also for standing up for principles she believes in and not being afraid to say how she feels.
“I have empathy for all LGBT people, and I have a thorough understanding of all the struggles no matter how different our circumstances may be,” said Jenner.
“This is not anti-trans. This is protecting women and girls, who are a protected class under federal law and the United States constitution,” said Blakeman.
The pair emphasized their disappointment in Nassau County having received a cease-and-desist order from New York Attorney General Letitia James, demanding Blakeman rescind the order, which she called “discriminatory and transphobic.” Jenner accused James of thinking her office to be above U.S. law and using LGBT people for political gain.
Regarding that joint press event, Larios commented, “We feel that the press conference was yet another disgraceful attempt to target and villainize trans women and girls by sending the message that they’re not worthy of the same benefits as their peers in sports … We don’t support platforming that kind of rhetoric anywhere.”
“None of these groups that are subject to this order knew that it was coming. They all found out at the same press conference on February 22,” she went on.
“In order to comply with this order, they’re now going to have to make very invasive inquiries about cis-gendered women [who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth] and trans women alike. Groups like the Roller Rebels don’t want to do that, and this [order] is going to turn away a lot of women from sports.”

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