Trans darts player left ‘broken’ after tournament ban

Samantha Lewis throwing a dart.

Trans darts player Samantha Lewis has said being banned from competing in a major tournament has left her broken.

Lewis spoke out against the decision by the English Darts Open to block her from entering the female category. “I finally get the chance to [play] and I’m told I’m not allowed, just because of my gender identity,” she said. “It’s broken me.

“I don’t feel I have an advantage over natural-birth women. It’s all to do with the practice you put in.”

The East-Yorkshire professional darts player, who began transitioning at the age of 14, has been competing for the Humberside County darts team for about six years.

She put herself forward to play at the England Open Darts tournament in Ilfracombe, Devon, but says she received a Facebook message telling her that her entry had been refused.

The message seemingly alluded to “derogatory remarks” Lewis was alleged to have made towards an official, which she denies.

You may like to watch

A silhouette throws a dart at a dart board.
England Darts barred Samantha Lewis from a competition. (Getty)

“It’s a skill sport. I know that you’re using your arm to throw it at the board, but it’s having that precision skill to be able to throw something to such an accurate target.

“They’re putting it like: ‘It’s to do with all the physical side of men having more of an advantage, and men win more things’. But my argument was if that’s really the case, then why haven’t I beaten you all in all these years?”

England Darts, an organisation which runs several tournaments in the country, declared in April that it would be excluding trans competitors because of the fear of what it described as the “demise of women’s sport.”

A statement from the organisation said: “The decision has not been made hastily, and whilst certain international championships may be affected by this decision, depending upon the views of others, nothing has ever been achieved without possible sacrifice.”

Lewis accepts that trans competitors should not compete in “physical” sports, but views darts as inherently different.

“I do agree that trans women shouldn’t play [competitively] in physical sports like football, rugby, swimming, boxing. But darts is a skill sport, not a physical sport.”

There is no evidence that suggests trans women have an inherent physical advantage over cisgender women in physical sporting events.

A study backed by International Olympic Committee published earlier this year highlighted the “complexity” of trans inclusion in sports and found that transgender athletes might actually be disadvantaged in certain competitive fields.

Please login or register to comment on this story.