Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signs an executive order that...

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman signs an executive order that restricts transgender athletes competing at Nassau athletic facilities. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Growing up, many members of the LGBTQ+ community can recall that bully who made their lives painfully difficult. In school, this cruel person taunted them with hurtful names and made them feel unwanted. And on the sports field, this person would say that they weren’t worthy of joining the team.

Nassau County Executive Bruce A. Blakeman effectively became that person with his ill-advised and possibly illegal executive order barring transgender girls from competing on girls teams playing at more than 100 county athletic facilities. It is an unnecessarily mean-spirited action that serves no other purpose than Blakeman’s own political agenda.

Blakeman ordered that local sports organizations applying for a permit to use county facilities such as the Nassau County Aquatic Center and Mitchel Athletic Complex must “expressly designate” whether their teams are male, female or coed based on their members’ “biological sex at birth.” While it bans transgender girls from playing on girls teams, Blakeman’s dictate would allow those born female to compete on male teams.

Blakeman’s action is deeply cynical. At Thursday’s news conference, he surrounded himself with little girls holding up pink-colored signs saying “Protect Women’s Sports,” using them as props in his effort to grab national attention.

Days before the news conference, local groups such as Loud Majority and Moms for Liberty took to social media to urge attendance at the news conference. The Suffolk chapter of Moms for Liberty specifically asked, “If anyone has personal experience with this matter please drop a comment … Blakeman's team would like to hear from you.” 

Apparently, there weren't a lot of experiences to share. When asked at the news conference, Blakeman couldn’t cite a single example of transgender girls attempting to compete in Nassau.

Instead of tolerance and leadership, Blakeman shows he has little regard for the struggles of transgender youth who are often ostracized, especially at a time when violence against them is on an upswing.

While the question of transgender people competing in sports is an ongoing debate regarding fairness and a level playing field, these questions are best left to the governing sports agencies that oversee these activities. The courts must also make sure all public facilities are open to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

What could be Blakeman's motive for this bizarre move, other than an addiction to national attention? It's yet another example of government by performance. Running Nassau County is a tough job. He should start doing it. He has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to fix the county's assessment system, attend to aging South Shore infrastructure that cannot handle increased rainwater from storms, or, most urgently, save Nassau University Medical Center which is on the brink of running out of money. Instead of picking on kids in such a deplorable way, the county executive should act to solve his own grown-up problems.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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