"I hope I can create a safer space for the next one after me" - Noa-Lynn van Leuven hopes her struggles will make life easier for future trans darters

Noa-Lynn van Leuven has made a huge breakthrough in the darting world over the last few months, winning titles on both the Challenge Tour and the Women's Series. However, this has also been accompanied by controversy.

Van Leuven was born male, but subsequently underwent a transition to a woman. It also affected her darts career. "In my youth I wasn't really that good but that might be partly because I wasn't that happy as a kid. I think like two or three years ago, I realized I could really get into darts," Van Leuven told Modus Darts.

However, the 27-year-old Dutchwoman was criticized for participating in women's tournaments as a transwoman. In Denmark, the discussion reached a controversial boiling point when Deta Hedman refused to play against Van Leuven, preferring to drop out of the tournament instead. "I don't really feel comfortable at WDF tournaments anymore," she explains. "I didn't even really want to go to Denmark, but it was my first WDF title so I was like; 'okay I'll just go there. I only want to defend my title.' I didn't even put my entries in for the second tournament and then with something happening like that, yeah it's annoying. I expected it, but I didn't know when it was coming."

Afterwards, her compatriots Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf let it be known via social media that they no longer want to be part of the Dutch national team as long as Van Leuven is also part of it. Van Leuven is having a hard time with that protest. "Some people say it's not personal, but I think we all know it's getting to a point where it is getting personal," she says. "We all know who the transgender person is that they are all talking about. At least they're trying to not make it personal, but whenever they call me 'the trans', like I said we all know who they're talking about."

"I've been getting a lot of support from the PDC and the PDPA as well," Van Leuven continues. "It sucks to be in the middle of the spotlight, but yeah, they're helping me so that's great! I can't imagine it getting really better. I hope I can create a safer space for the next one after me, but it's not looking really good right now."

Despite all the furore however, Van Leuven has been doing great in recent months, winning tournaments of the Women's Series and the Challenge Tour, with the Dutchwoman in a positive position to qualify for both Lakeside and the Alexandra Palace.

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