Metro Weekly

Letitia James Can Sue Nassau County Over Trans Ban

A federal judge will not stop the New York Attorney General from taking legal action against a county with a trans sports ban.

Letitia James and Bruce Blakeman

A federal judge rejected a request from New York’s Nassau County to block New York Attorney General Letitia James from taking legal action against the county for its law prohibiting transgender athletes from using county-owned sports venues. 

In February, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, issued an order denying permits for all county-run parks and sports facilities to any female-designated sports team that cannot provide evidence, including original birth certificates attesting that all their members were assigned female at birth.

Days later, James, a Democrat, sent Blakeman a letter telling him to rescind the order, on the grounds that it violates New York State’s law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. She called the order “transphobic and blatantly illegal.”

In response, Blakeman sued James in federal court, demanding that the judge in the case order James not to pursue legal action against the county, and seeking a ruling declaring that New York’s anti-discrimination law violates the U.S. Constitution.

However, Judge Nusrat Choudhury, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, ruled on April 5 that the 11th Amendment generally prevents a local government from suing a state government in federal court.

She also found that Nassau County had no legal standing to sue, nor did an unnamed 16-year-old girl who plays volleyball, who, with her parents, had joined Blakeman as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against James.

“There are no facts in the record showing that any specific cisgender woman or girl in Nassau County will face imminent injury in an athletic event involving a transgender woman or girl on Nassau County Parks property if the Executive Order is invalidated,” Choudhury wrote in her ruling.

Choudhury said she would rule on the merits of the attorney general’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit entirely sometime this month. 

Blakeman’s order is reminiscent of laws in 25 states where lawmakers have passed measures to bar transgender women from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity

Since issuing his executive order, he has been sued in state court by a local women’s roller derby team who claims that allowing the county to enforce the transgender ban will mean the loss of their practice space and likely a forced relocation of their matches. 

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