Women’s Roller Derby League Sues Suburban NY County Over Transgender Ban


A legal battle has erupted in New York as the Long Island Roller Rebels, a women’s roller derby league, takes a stand against a controversial executive order issued by Nassau County 

Executive Bruce Blakeman. Filed in state court on Monday, the lawsuit challenges Blakeman’s directive, which prohibits female sports teams with transgender athletes from utilizing county facilities, citing violations of state anti-discrimination laws.

Blakeman’s order, issued on February 22, casts a wide net over more than 100 athletic facilities within Nassau County, encompassing a range of sports from basketball to swimming. 

It mandates that teams seeking permits from the county’s parks and recreation department must explicitly identify as either male, female, or coed. 

Rolling Against Discrimination

A legal battle has erupted in New York as the Long Island Roller Rebels, a women’s roller derby league, takes a stand against a controversial executive order issued by Nassau County

Under this directive, any team classified as “female” faces permit denial if they include transgender athletes, while men’s teams with transgender participants remain unaffected.

The Roller Rebels swiftly responded to the order, filing a lawsuit asserting that it perpetuates discrimination against transgender individuals, contrary to New York’s human rights and civil rights statutes. 

Amanda “Curly Fry” Urena, a member of the Roller Rebels, condemned the policy as “transphobic and unjust,” emphasizing the importance of creating safe spaces for transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive individuals.

Blakeman, however, defended his stance, arguing that the ban aims to safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and prevent potential injuries to female athletes compelled to compete against transgender women. 

In a bid to affirm the legality of his order, Blakeman filed a lawsuit in federal court after receiving a warning from state Attorney General Letitia James that the ban contravenes anti-discrimination laws.

The Roller Rebels, who have utilized Nassau County facilities for years, now find themselves in a predicament. 

Despite applying for permits to host upcoming games, they anticipate rejection due to their inclusive stance towards transgender, intersex, and gender-expansive individuals.

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Roller Rebels’ Fight for Transgender Inclusion

The league faces a dilemma: either exclude transgender women from participation, contradicting their values and state law, or forfeit access to county facilities.

Drawing upon New York’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and guidance from the state Division of Human Rights, the Roller Rebels’ lawsuit contends that public accommodations cannot bar transgender individuals from programs and activities aligned with their gender identity. 

Gabriella Larios, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), characterizes Nassau County’s order as part of a broader assault on LGBTQ rights nationwide, citing similar legislation passed in other states.

The legal clash underscores the intersection of sports, gender identity, and civil rights, with implications reaching far beyond Nassau County. 

As the Roller Rebels take a stand against what they perceive as discrimination, the outcome of this legal battle could shape the landscape of transgender inclusion in sports, setting a precedent for future cases across the United States.

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