Trans darts player speaks out after player boycotts

Dutch darts player Noa-Lynn van Leuven is a rising star, with the World Darts Federation ranking her as the No. 5 woman. But as a trans woman, van Leuven has had to overcome barriers beyond the competition, as fellow players have repeatedly protested her involvement. Now after an opponent boycotted a recent high profile match, van Leuven has called out the senseless logic of transphobic hatred.

Earlier this month, the No. 7 ranked player, England’s Deta Hedman, pulled out of the quarter-finals match in Denmark over what spectators initially believed was an illness. Hedman later clarified that she dropped out because she refused to participate in a match against a transgender player.

“No fake illness, I said I wouldn’t play a man in a woman’s event,” she posted on Twitter/X. “People can be whoever they want in life, but I don’t think biological-born men should compete in women’s sports.”

Van Leuven has experienced similar reactions throughout her rising career. After winning one of four Women’s Series matches in March, two fellow Dutch players, Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf, resigned in protest.

At the time, Paul Engelbertink, chairman of the Dutch Darts Association, spoke out in support of van Leuven. “We have rules and guidelines in consultation with the NOC/NSF and the World Federation that we have to follow,” he said. “In those, there are strict requirements to be allowed to participate in tournaments as a transgender person and Noa-Lynn meets them all. …In this matter, we do support Noa-Lynn.”

In the semi-finals, van Leuven ultimately lost to Beau Greaves. Speaking on the Dutch talk show Sophie & Jeroen in the aftermath of the match, she addressed the idea that her transition was somehow centered on performing better at sports.

“That is totally untrue,” she said, as translated by PinkNews. “I have never seen anyone who has gone through the years of misery of transition only to perform better afterwards.”

“All we want is to be ourselves. As trans people, we want to be respected. I’m Noa-Lynn, I’m a woman and I just want to do what I love to do and happen to be good at, and that’s darts.”

She added in a conversation with the Dutch outlet de Volkskrant that she felt humiliated when “half the hall started clapping” after she lost the match.

“I felt very small. The last few weeks I really had to withdraw,” she said. “Then some say I transitioned so I can win at women’s [sports], but I don’t begrudge anyone the hell I went through to become who I am now.

“I didn’t do that to win some more prize money.”

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