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Long Island roller derby league fighting county order restricting transgender players in women's sports

Long Island roller derby league fighting county order restricting transgender players in women’s sports

Tooba Shakir 3 weeks ago 0 0

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A Long Island, New York, roller derby league is suing a county leader over an executive order that prevents women’s and girls’ teams with transgender players from using parks and fields that the county runs. 

The Long Island Roller Rebels are preparing for their latest roller derby season at their local roller rink, but there’s a bigger battle at play right now. It’s something the league’s vice president, Amanda Urena, knew the league would want to push back on. 

“The whole point of derby has been to be this thing where people feel welcome,” Urena, who competes as “Curly Fry” and identifies as queer, said at a recent practice at United Skates of America in Seaford, per the Associated Press. “We want trans women to know that we want you to come play with us, and we’ll do our very best to keep fighting and making sure that this is a safe space for you to play.”

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Helmet of roller derby player with sticker reading 'Move, I'm gay.'

This view shows Amanda “Curly Fry” Urena’s helmet, March 19, 2023, at United Skates of America in Seaford, New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

The league’s lawsuit, which is being backed by the New York Civil Liberties Union, comes after the February order from Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, which states sports leagues and teams looking for permits to use county-run parks must disclose whether transgender women or girls are on teams, or allowed to be in the league. 

If so, a permit would be denied for those women’s and girls’ leagues, while men’s leagues won’t be affected by the order. 

TRANS INCLUSION IN WOMEN’S SPORTS BECOMES HOTTER TOPIC IN 2023

The Roller Rebels were one of those teams looking for a permit for the county-owned rinks, but they are expecting to be denied. The league allows anyone who identifies as a woman, and one transgender player is already on their roster. 

State Attorney General Letitia James has already called for Nassau County to rescind the order, saying anti-discrimination laws are being violated. Meanwhile, Blakeman has asked a federal judge to uphold the order. 

Bruce Blakeman speaks at podium

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman speaks to the crowd during his State of the County address held at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, New York, on March 6, 2024. (Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Roller derby has long been an inclusive sport. Margot Atwell, the author of “Derby Life” and roller derby player in New York City, said it’s been a safe haven for queer and trans women for decades. 

“You come in here, and you say, ‘I’m a trans woman. I’m a nonbinary person. I’m genderqueer.’ OK? We accept you,” Caitlin Carroll, a member of the Roller Rebels who goes by “Catastrophic Danger,” said, per AP. “The world is scary enough. You should have a safe place to be.”

Blakeman’s reasoning for the executive order stems from his effort to ensure female athletes can compete in their respective sports fairly. Blakeman held a news conference with Caitlyn Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist for the men’s decathlon in 1976 prior to a gender transition, who endorsed the ban.

Long Island Roller Rebels practice on rink

Members of the Long Island Roller Rebels practice skills on March 19, 2023, at United Skates of America in Seaford, New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

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This issue involving trans women in women’s sports adds to the national discussion surrounding one of the most controversial topics in sports.

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