Transgender darts star backed as Dutch association respond to backlash | Other | Sport

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The Dutch Darts Association has responded after two of Noa-Lynn van Leuven’s international team-mates publicly quit the national team. The transgender darts star has grabbed the headlines after beating the likes of Fallon Sherrock on the PDC Women’s Series last week in Wigan.

Van Leuven defeated Katie Sheldon in the final a week after becoming the first trans woman to win a PDC Tour event on the Challenge Tour in Hildesheim, Germany.

Her presence on the tour and inclusion in the Netherlands’ upcoming squad for the Four Nations next month led to two of her team-mates, Aileen de Graaf and Anca Zijlstra, to quit the team.

On Facebook, Zijlstra wrote: “The moment when you feel ashamed to play for the Dutch team because a biological man plays on the women’s team, it’s time to go. I have tried to accept this, but I cannot condone or condone it. I believe that sports should be an equal and fair playing field, handled and accepted as such in good conscience. After all, we have worked so hard to be relevant and competitive in this sport.”

De Graaf then added: ”At some point you have to make choices when something goes against your feelings. You have to do what feels right for you. Hence my decision to leave the Dutch team.”

Now the Dutch Darts Association have weighed in and backed Van Leuven, stating the regret that they have over the two players’ withdrawal from the squad. ”The NDB understands that people can have different opinions about this, but we follow the rules and guidelines that have been drawn up,” a statement read.

“In addition, we stand for a sport of darts where everyone feels at home and everyone can participate. We believe it is important that 100 percent of people feel welcome at the NDB in a socially safe, healthy and inclusive sporting environment. In this, it does not matter what your origin, political affiliation, gender, sexual orientation, race or religion is.”

The association also referenced their Gender and Sex-Diverse Persons guideline in response. ‘In addition, the guideline is in line with the World Darts Federation’s (WDF) Transgender Athlete Policy,” they added.

“We are aware that Noa-Lynn van Leuven has gone through a transition from male to female and her gender identity is female. In addition, she meets all other requirements set and thus she is eligible to play in the women’s category.”

Van Leuven herself spoke out on the matter but wanted to draw a line under her colleagues’ decisions not to associate themselves with her on the national team.

“I don’t really feel the need to go further into it,” she said. “This has been their choice and not mine. I think the only unfortunate thing about this issue is that a lot of people forget that I am also a human being.”

Van Leuven joined the Women’s Series in 2022 and previously admitted that she might not be alive today if not for transitioning. “I think if I didn’t have the transition, I wouldn’t be here anymore,” she told the Press Association.

“The last two years before I transitioned were terrible for me, I was depressed, I wasn’t having fun in life. I didn’t have anything to live for, I wasn’t in a good space. Then I realised I am trans, I should do something with that or I am not going to make anything out of my life.”

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