Letitia James, New York's attorney general, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024....

Letitia James, New York's attorney general, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024. Nassau County Executive Blakeman, March 6, 2024. Credit: Danielle Silverman

A federal judge Friday dismissed Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's lawsuit against State Attorney General Letitia James over the implementation of his controversial executive order barring transgender females from participating in girls sports at county parks and facilities.

The ruling, delivered from the bench by District Court Judge Nusrat Choudhury, found that Blakeman and his co-plaintiffs lack the standing to stop the attorney general from challenging the executive order, officials said.

The dismissal of the lawsuit does not nullify Blakeman's Feb. 22 executive order, which remains in effect. But it clears the way for James' office to file its own lawsuit challenging the legality of the executive order — a step the county had been trying to prevent through its preemptive legal challenge.

“This decision is a tremendous victory for justice and the rule of law, but our work here is not done,” James said in a statement Friday. “County Executive Blakeman’s executive order is transphobic, and we have no room for hate in New York. It’s past time for Nassau County to rescind this order and treat all our communities with the basic respect and dignity they deserve.”

The attorney general's office said it was reviewing its legal options in challenging the executive order.

In a statement, Blakeman said he was “shocked that a federal judge with a background as a Civil Liberties Union lawyer would not give girls and women their day in court. We vehemently disagree with the decision and will appeal.”

Choudhury's online bio shows that she worked in various capacities for the ACLU from 2013 through 2023.

The dismissal of Blakeman's lawsuit comes after Choudhury last week denied the county's request for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented James from blocking his executive order while the legal action takes place.

The Feb. 22 executive order, which went into effect at more than 100 athletic sites, requires organizations applying for a permit to “expressly designate” whether they are male, female or coed based on their members' “biological sex at birth.” Organizations allowing transgender females to compete on girls teams will be denied a permit to utilize Nassau athletic facilities.

In late February, James issued a cease-and-desist order to Blakeman, arguing the executive order is in “clear violation” of the state's anti-discrimination laws and must be immediately rescinded. To block Blakeman's executive order, James would still need to file a lawsuit against the county.

Blakeman and the Floral Park parents of a 16-year-old girls volleyball player responded by filing the federal suit in the Eastern District in Central Islip, contending the county has a constitutional right to protect women and girls from unfair competition and potential injury from playing against transgender athletes.

The lawsuit cited the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause and Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. It included a pair of examples of transgender girls injuring female athletes in games in Massachusetts and North Carolina.

Blakeman, however, said at the time that he knows of no cases in which transgender girls were attempting to compete in women's sports at Nassau facilities, and that no permits have been denied.

Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of Gender Equality New York, who is transgender, welcomed the dismissal of the lawsuit, “which sought to defend a divisive and harmful political maneuver rather than support our young transgender children who deserve understanding and compassion. The impact of this ban on the mental well-being of our community's youth and their families cannot be overstated. As we move forward, it's crucial for Nassau County taxpayers to be informed about the ongoing legal expenses incurred due to this misguided and unwarranted attack.”

The federal case is separate from a lawsuit filed in state court last month by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Long Island Roller Rebels, an all-female roller derby league.

That suit contends Blakeman's executive order violates New York’s Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law and guidance from the state Education Department, which stipulates that students must be allowed to participate in athletic activities in accordance with their gender identity.

Last week, Nassau County Attorney Thomas Adams asked the court to dismiss the NYCLU lawsuit, arguing that the executive order “protects fairness, equality, and safety in women’s and girls’ sports, while at the same time ensuring that men and transgender athletes are provided an opportunity to perform in designated events.”

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