Anti-transgender backlash sparks after trans woman wins darts tournament

Anti-transgender backlash sparks after trans woman wins darts tournament
Image: Noa-Lynn van Leuven after winning the PDC mixed event. Image: PDC / Twitter

Transgender woman Noa-Lynn van Leuven has recently won a major women’s dart tournament, and anti-transgender activists and players are quitting in protest.

Van Leuven won the PDC Women’s Series days after also winning a mixed event, where she triumphed over competitors of various genders to win a £2,500 pot. This win saw her make history as the first trans player to win a PDC tour event.

Van Leuven joined the Women’s Series in 2022, a year after transitioning, and after her victory two of her Dutch teammates quit the national team in protest.

World number two Aileen de Graaf resigned, vowing to no longer represent the Netherlands. Anca Zijlstra also quit, saying she was stepping down from the team “with pain in [her] heart”.

Zijlstra posted to social media saying, “That moment when you’re embarrassed to come out for the Dutch team, because a biological man is playing on the women’s team, it’s time to go.”

“I have tried to accept this but I can’t approve or validate this.

Van Leuven said she believes these decisions from other players is an attempt to get her banned. She has previously said that the anti-transgender rhetoric from other players is “very hard” to deal with.

“It sucks, but I try not to let it get too much into my head. It is very hard. It has been tough for the last two years.

“There are a few trans players, but I guess I’m the only one who can throw really good darts, so they want to get rid of me.”

“Stringent” rules for transgender people in darts

There are already strict rules for transgender athletes in the world of darts. Transgender players must meet stringent testosterone levels for at least 12 months, and are not allowed to change gender identity for at least four years.

PDC boss Matt Porter said of van Leuven joining the Women’s Series: “She has qualified by right. She is there on a level footing with every competitor in this sport.”

Anti-transgender rhetoric in sport

Tennis champion Martina Navratilova responded to stories about van Leuven’s win on X (formerly Twitter). She said, “No male bodies in women’s sports please — not even in darts.”

Martina, who won Wimbledon nine times, regularly speaks about her belief in the gender binary and various anti-transgender topics on X under the guise of “protecting women’s sport”.

This story discusses discrimination, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

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