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Dutch darts players quit national women’s team over transgender teammate



Darts players Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf have announced their departure from the Dutch women’s darts team because they refuse to team up with trans woman Noa-Lynn van Leuven.

Zijlstra announced she was quitting the team in a post on Facebook.

“The moment you’re embarrassed to be a part of the Dutch Team, because a biological man is playing in the women’s team, it’s time to go,” she wrote.

“I have tried to accept this, but I can not condone or justify this.

“I think that with sports there has to be an equal and level playing field which is to be used and accepted in good faith. After all, we have worked so hard to be relevant and competitive in this sport.” 

De Graaf, who was also on the Dutch national team, commented on the post, announcing her departure too.

“At some point you have to make decisions if something goes against your feelings,” she wrote.

“You have to do what feels right for you. Hence my decision to also leave the Dutch team.”

Aileen de Graaf and Anca Zijlstra, pictured at the 2023 WDF World Cup, say they cannot condone having a transgender woman on the team.(Supplied: Nederlandse Darts Bond/Facebook)

Van Leuven told Dutch national broadcaster NOS the controversy had taken an emotional toll.

“This was their decision and not mine. The only sad thing about this issue is that a lot of people forget that I am also just a human,” she said.

League chief says transgender player complies with policies 

Van Leuven prevailed at the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) Women’s Series on Saturday, about a week after beating male competitors in a mixed event. 

When asked in an interview earlier this year about transgender players in darts, PDC chief executive Matt Porter said there was a trans- and gender diversity policy in place “… which Noa-Lynn complies with, easily, and has done for a long time”.

“She’s more than deserving of her place in the women’s world match play,” he said.

The Dutch Darts Federation’s regulations state that trans women are eligible to play in the women’s category if they submit a statement from a doctor confirming they have been undergoing gender-affirming treatment for at least one year.

A woman is pictured from the side, she is about to throw a dart.

Noa-Lynn van Leuven deserves her place in the sport, the PDC chief executive says.(AFP: Shane Healey/ProSportsImages/DPPI)

It also states the player needs a government-issued ID showing their gender and that the player’s gender identity cannot be changed for at least four years.

“I have a letter from the VU University Medical Centre which states that my testosterone level has been under a certain level for the past 12 months,” Van Leuven said in an interview last year.

Darts a ‘level playing field’

Former PDC chairman told The Darts Show Podcast in 2019 that gender was irrelevant in darts.

“The great thing about darts is that it’s gender free, it’s gender neutral,” he said.

“It’s a level playing field. If you’re a good enough player, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re fat or thin.

“Just show me that you can produce big averages and that you can win matches and take out doubles when you’re under pressure. That’s the end of the game.” 

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