Transgender Noa-Lynn van Leuven wins darts titles against women and men in same week

Dutch darts player won Challenge Tour event in Hildesheim last week and followed it up with victory at PDC Women’s Series in Wigan



Noa-Lynn van Leuven has become the first transgender darts player to win both a PDC Women’s Series event and Challenge Tour title in a mixed field with men.


Van Leuven, from the Netherlands, defeated a string of male PDC event winners last week to take the £2,500 challenger event in Germany before playing in a women-only event in Wigan on Saturday, where she beat both Fallon Sherrock and the world No 1 Beau Greaves.


In a one-day double-header, Sherrock won the first event, which included Van Leuven, but was then beaten 5-3 in the semi-final of the second event by Van Leuven, who recorded an average in excess of 100 before also beating Ireland’s Katie Sheldon in the final.


Her victory prompted condemnation of darts’ transgender policy by Martina Navratilova, the nine times Wimbledon champion, who said that all sports “even in darts” should allow only natal females to compete in the women’s events.


The PDC follows the guidelines set out by the Darts Regulation Authority which, in turn, has followed guidance from the International Olympic Committee. The IOC’s 10 principles include “no presumption of advantage” and “inclusion”. They have advised sports to individually consider “disproportionate advantage, which needs therefore to be mitigated”. 


This policy, however, was challenged this week by a group of 26 academics who said “that the inclusion of transgender women in female sports categories cannot be reconciled with fairness”. 


The darts policy requires that transgender players must have a testosterone level below 10 nmo/L for at least 12 months and says that a gender identity cannot be changed for a minimum of four years.


Greaves and Sherrock, the two leading women’s darts players, have become increasingly competitive with men in the open professional circuit over recent years but there are still also women-only tournaments such as the women’s series and women’s matchplay.


In an interview last year with the Guardian, Van Leuven, who is 27, said that she began considering transitioning at around the age of 16. “I was getting more and more unhappy with myself, to a point that I didn’t want to live any more,” she said. “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.”


She said in the interview that she had experienced some negativity to her participation in women’s events but not from Greaves or Sherrock.


Deta Hedman, who has long been one of the leading women’s darts players, recently outlined her opposition: “I have thought this is wrong since day one. I have no problems with transgenders in life, I’m not close to Noa-Lynn in darts but in fairness seems a lovely person. For many months I’ve struggled with transgenders playing in the women’s world ranked events.”


PDC chief executive Matt Porter said last year that Van Leuven “more than complies” with darts’ transgender policy: “Noa-Lynn has qualified by right. Good luck to her, she’s there, deserves to be there and she is there on a level footing with every competitor in this sport. The DRA is our governing body – they follow the guidelines laid down by the IOC.”



Gideon Canice

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