Transgender female darts player wins women's event, sparks fury

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Transgender darts player Noa-Lynn van Leuven won titles against men and women in the same week and immediately came under fire for being allowed to compete against female opponents.

Van Leuven won a women’s event in the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) on Saturday, topping Beau Graves and Katie Sheldon. The win came more than a week after van Leuven won a mixed competition over John Henderson, Cam Crabtree and Tytus Kanik.


A PDC logo on the dart board

A general view of a dart board featuring the PDC logo during the final on day three of the Ladbrokes Masters 2021 tournament at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes. (Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Van Leuven told The Guardian last year that the transition began at the age of 16, and as van Leuven started to move into women’s competitive darts, the backlash began.

“I was getting more and more unhappy with myself, to a point that I didn’t want to live any more,” van Leuven told the outlet. “And that was the moment where I thought: I can go two sides now. I can end it, or I can live as who I want to live.”


PDC chief executive Matt Porter told The Guardian last year that van Leuven complies with the organization’s transgender participation policy. The PDC follows the Darts Regulation Authority’s policy, which is governed by the International Olympic Committee.


The PDC logo

General view of a PDC sign during day two of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in London on Thursday Dec. 16, 2021. (Kieran Cleeves/PA Images via Getty Images)

The IOC’s darts policy requires transgender female competitors to have a testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months and that gender identity cannot be changed for at least four years. The transgender female may not have a “presumption of advantage” and the IOC advises sports to “disproportionate advantage, which needs therefore to be mitigated.”

Van Leuven’s participation and eventual victory in the sports world caused a bit of controversy, including on the Dutch national team. Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf both stepped aside from the team.

“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,” de Graaf wrote on Facebook, via The Sun.

“I have tried to accept this but I can’t approve or validate this. I think that in sports there should be an equal and fair playing field. I hope with all my heart and for all women in sports that people come to their senses.”

Tennis icon Martina Navratilova also spoke out against van Leuven.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova, a Czech-American former professional tennis player, speaks during a joint press conference with Chris Evert of the USA on Day 5 of the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun 2023 as part of the Hologic WTA Tour, on Nov. 2, 2023, in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


“Again- women get the short end of the stick either way. And it stinks,” she wrote on X.

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