LI curler derby league suing Nassau County Exec over transgender sports activities ban

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LI curler derby league suing Nassau County Exec over transgender sports activities ban


They zip across the rink, armed with helmets, pads and mouthguards. They push, bump and infrequently crash out as they jostle for place on the hardwood ground.

However for the ladies of the Lengthy Island Curler Rebels, their greatest battle is happening outdoors the suburban strip-mall curler rink the place they’re girding for the upcoming curler derby season.

The almost 20-year-old beginner league is suing a county chief over an government order meant to forestall girls’s and woman’s leagues and groups with transgender gamers from utilizing county-run parks and fields.

The league’s authorized effort, backed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, has thrust it into the nationwide dialogue over the rights of transgender athletes.

Amanda Urena, the league’s vice chairman, stated there was by no means any query the group would take a stand.

“The entire level of derby has been to be this factor the place folks really feel welcome,” stated the 32-year-old Lengthy Island native, who competes as “Curly Fry” and identifies as queer, at a current observe at United Skates of America in Seaford.

“We would like trans girls to know that we wish you to return play with us, and we’ll do our best to maintain combating and ensuring that it is a secure house so that you can play.”

The February edict from Nassau County Govt Bruce Blakeman impacts greater than 100 public amenities within the county of almost 1.4 million simply east of Queens.

Sports activities leagues and groups looking for permits to play or observe in county-run parks should disclose whether or not they have or permit transgender girls or ladies. Any group that enables them to play shall be denied a allow, although males’s leagues and groups aren’t affected.

Payments proscribing trans youths’ means to take part in sports activities have already handed in some 24 states as a part of an explosion of anti-trans laws on many topics lately.

The most important college district in Manhattan is amongst localities additionally weighing a ban, following a college board vote final week.

Members of the Lengthy Island Curler Rebels observe at United Skates of America in Seaford, NY on March 19, 2024. AP

The Curler Rebels sought a county allow this month in hopes of internet hosting practices and video games in county-owned rinks within the upcoming season, as they’ve in prior years.

However they count on to be denied, because the group is open to anybody who identifies as a girl and has one transgender participant already on the roster.

The ban will even make it laborious for the league, which has two groups and about 25 gamers, to recruit and can harm its means to host competitions with different leagues, Urena stated.

State Legal professional Common Letitia James has demanded the county rescind the ban, saying it violates state anti-discrimination legal guidelines, whereas Blakeman has requested a federal choose to uphold it.

Nassau County Govt Bruce Blakeman speaks at a information convention in Mineola, NY on March 6, 2024. AP

{That a} curler derby league has change into the face of opposition isn’t stunning: the game has lengthy been a haven for queer and transgender girls, stated Margot Atwell, who performed in a girls’s league in New York Metropolis and wrote “Derby Life,” a e book about curler derby.

The game, which dates a minimum of to the Nineteen Thirties and loved its heyday within the Seventies, entails two groups racing round a monitor as their designated “jammer” makes an attempt to attain factors by lapping the opposite skaters, who’re allowed to make use of their hips, chests and shoulders to gradual them down.

The most recent revival began within the early 2000s and has been sustained by LGBTQ+ folks, with leagues often participating in Pleasure parades and holding fundraising matches, Atwell stated.

“You are available in right here and also you say, ‘I’m a trans girl. I’m a nonbinary particular person. I’m genderqueer.’ OK? We settle for you,” stated Caitlin Carroll, a Curler Insurgent who competes as “Catastrophic Hazard.” “The world is horrifying sufficient. It is best to have a secure place to be.”

Blakeman has stated he needs to make sure feminine athletes can compete safely and pretty.

He held a information convention final week with Caitlyn Jenner, who received Olympic gold within the males’s decathlon in 1976 and later underwent a gender transition.

Jenner, a Republican who’s often at political odds with the larger transgender neighborhood, has endorsed the ban.

Blakeman, a Republican who was elected in 2021, has stated constituents requested his workplace to behave.

Lengthy Island Curler Rebels member Caitlin Carroll poses for a photograph throughout a current observe on March 19, 2024. AP
The league’s authorized effort, backed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, has thrust it into the nationwide dialogue over the rights of transgender athletes. AP

However many critics dismiss the ban as political posturing, noting he has acknowledged there have been no native complaints involving transgender gamers on girls’s groups.

“It is a resolution in quest of an issue,” stated Emily Santosus, a 48-year previous transgender girl on Lengthy Island who hopes to hitch a girls’s softball group. “We’re not bullies. We’re those that get bullied.”

Those who will undergo most aren’t elite athletes, however youngsters nonetheless making an attempt to navigate their gender identities, added Grace McKenzie, a transgender girl who performs for the New York Rugby Membership’s girls’s group.

“Merciless is the one phrase that I can use to explain it,” the 30-year-old Brooklyn resident stated. “Youngsters are utilizing sports activities at that age to construct relationships, make friendships, develop teamwork abilities, management abilities and, frankly, simply assist defend them from all of the hate they face as transgender youngsters already.”

Within the bigger dialogue about trans girls in sports activities, both sides factors to restricted analysis to help their opinion. And bans typically don’t distinguish between women and girls who took puberty blockers as a part of their transition — stunting the event of a male-typical physique — and people who didn’t, one thing one New York advocate identified.

The order in Nassau County places some youthful trans ladies at larger threat by probably pitting them in opposition to boys as an alternative, stated Juli Gray-Owens, chief of Gender Equality New York.

Two members of the Lengthy Island Curler Rebels collide with one another throughout their observe at United Skates of America on March 19. 2024. AP

“They don’t seem to be hitting puberty, so that they’re not rising, they’re not getting that physique power, the endurance, the agility, the massive ft, the massive legs,” Gray-Owens stated.

The ban may even result in cisgender feminine athletes who’re robust and muscular being falsely labeled transgender and disqualified, as has occurred elsewhere, stated Shane Diamond, a transgender man who performs leisure LGBTQ+ ice hockey in New York Metropolis.

“It creates a system the place any younger girl who doesn’t match the stereotypical thought of femininity and womanhood is vulnerable to having her gender questioned or gender policed,” Diamond stated.

A 2022 Washington Put up-College of Maryland Ballot discovered that 55% of People have been against permitting trans girls and ladies to compete with different girls and ladies in highschool sports activities, and 58% opposed it for school and professional sports activities.

Blakeman has stated he needs to make sure feminine athletes can compete safely and pretty. AP

Two cisgender feminine athletes stated after listening to Jenner that males are stronger than girls, so it would by no means be honest if transgender girls and ladies are allowed to compete.

“There’s a likelihood I’d get harm in these conditions,” stated Trinity Reed, 21, who performs lacrosse at Nassau County’s Hofstra College.

Mia Babino, 18, performs subject hockey on the State College of New York at Cortland and plans to switch to Nassau County’s Molloy College.

“We’ve labored very laborious to get to the place we’re and to play at a university degree,” she stated.

However that angle runs in opposition to every little thing athletic competitors stands for, and it sells girls and their potential quick, countered Urena, of the Curler Rebels.

“If folks gave up taking part in sports activities as a result of they thought they have been going to lose, we wouldn’t have a sports activities business,” they stated. “I like taking part in in opposition to folks which can be sooner and stronger as a result of that’s how I get higher.”


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