Trans darts star responds after opponent refuses to play her

Noa-Lynn van Leuven playing darts

Trans darts player Noa-Lynn van Leuven has said all she wants is to be “respected” after opponent Deta Hedman boycotted a match over her gender identity.

British darts player, Deta Hedman, forfeited a match at the Denmark Open in early May when she was set to compete against the 27-year-old trans darts player in the quarter-finals.

While some initially believed Hedman pulled out due to illness, she later confirmed in a post on X/Twitter that she refused to compete against Van Leuven because she was transgender.

“No fake illness, I said I wouldn’t play a man in a woman’s event,” she wrote in a post misgendering Van Leuven.

“People can be whoever they want in life, but I don’t think biological-born men should compete in women’s sports.”

British darts player Deta Hedman
British darts player Deta Hedman forfeited a match rather than play Van Leuven. (Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Van Leuven, who eventually went on to lose against competitor Beau Greaves in the semi-finals, spoke out about the controversy, addressing the baseless accusations that she transitioned to gain an advantage in women’s sports.

“That is totally untrue,” she said during an appearance on the talk show Sophie and Jeroen. “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.”

Noa-Lynn Van Leuven during an interview.
Noa-Lynn Van Leuven during an interview. (Twitter/Screenshot/Sophie and Jeroen)

In an interview with Dutch morning newspaper, de Volkskrant, Van Leuven said that she felt humiliated following her loss in the semi-finals after “half the hall started clapping.”

“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.”

Sports regulatory body, the Professional Darts Corporation’s chief executive, Matthew Porter, has previously spoken in support of Van Leuven and has reiterated that she complies with the organisation’s rules on trans participation.

“We’ve got our policy in darts, it’s a policy we are very comfortable with. It’s here and it’s not going away.”

The myth that trans women pose an inherent advantage in sporting events is often purported by anti-trans groups, who cite inherent biological advantages, but there is little to no scientific evidence that this is the case.

Trans athlete, Schuyler Bailar, criticised attempts to ban trans athletes from competition in 2022, telling PinkNews: “There’s a really big problem with putting out rules right now on trans athletes because we don’t actually have robust research on trans athletes, why? Because we’re not allowed to play.