Trans-inclusive roller derby team helps strike down trans sports ban

An edited image of a roller-derby competitor on top of a pink background.

An anti-trans sports ban in New York has been reversed thanks to a defiant – and trans-inclusive – roller derby team.

Legislation which prevented trans women competing in women’s sports was overturned following a legal battle fought on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels roller derby team.

In February, Republican lawmaker and Nassau County executive, Bruce Blakeman, issued an executive order that banned trans women from participating in competitive sport, prompting a challenge from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), and the Roller Rebels, who argued that the legislation was discriminatory.

Now, Nassau County Supreme Court judge Francis Ricigliano has ruled that Blakeman acted “beyond the scope of his authority”.

In his ruling, the judge wrote: “With the stated goal of protecting women’s and girls’ rights to compete athletically, the county executive issued an executive order aimed at preventing transgender women from participating in girls’ and women’s athletics in Nassau County parks despite there being no corresponding legislative enactment providing the county executive with the authority to issue such an order.”

NYCLU staff attorney Gabriella Larios, who represented the group, said they were gratified that the court had struck down the policy, which belongs in the “dustbin of history.”

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Stock image of a trans flag waving in the wind
A Trans Pride flag. (Getty)

She went on to say: “The ruling deals a serious blow to county executive Blakeman’s attempt to score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about transgender women and girls. We will continue to ensure that the attacks against LGBTQ+ rights sweeping the nation will not stand in New York.”

Blakeman accused judge Ricigliano of a “lack of courage” and of refusing to decide the case “on its merits”, adding: “Unfortunately, girls and women are hurt by the court.”

But Roller Rebels president Curly Fry described the decision as a victory for supporters of trans rights everywhere.

“It sends a strong message that transphobic discrimination cannot stand,” he said. “As a league welcoming trans women, and committed to providing a safe space for everyone to be their full selves, county executive Blakeman’s order tried to punish us just because we believe in inclusion.

“Trans people belong everywhere, including in sports, and they will not be erased.”

This isn’t the first time Blakeman has taken aim at transgender people. A lawsuit he filed last year, in an effort to silence New York attorney general Letitia James’s support of trans rights, was thrown out by a judge.