Noa-Lynn van Leuven has been sent extensive online abuse in recent days | PDC

The national federation for darts in the Netherlands is standing by trans darts player Noa-Lynn van Leuven after two players said they would quit the Dutch team in protest over the trans player’s eligibility.

The trans athlete followed up her history-making success in a PDC Challenge Tour event in Germany earlier in the month with a triumph in one of four PDC Women’s Series events held in Wigan, UK, last weekend. The Challenge Tour is an open event.

Van Leuven, who is now ranked sixth in the world and transitioned when she was 17, explained to Outsports how she had been training hard to improve her game and was seeing the benefits of her dedication.

But after the 27-year-old’s performances in Wigan, Anca Zijlstra and Aileen de Graaf announced publicly that they planned to no longer make themselves available for selection to the Dutch national team because of their opposition to their compatriot’s participation in women’s darts.

To claim a Women’s Series event, competitors have to win seven consecutive matches. Van Leuven beat Zijlstra en route to her triumph Saturday, with the latter posting to her Facebook account immediately afterwards, writing that she had “tried to accept… but I can’t approve or validate this.”

Van Leuven has been playing with the national team since 2021. In the three other series events in Wigan over the weekend, she reached two quarter-finals and a last-16 spot, being eliminated on those occasions by opponents ranked above and below her in the WDF World Rankings.

The decisions of both De Graaf, second in the world, and Zijlstra also served as an additional trigger to significant abuse on social media. A number of discriminatory messages have been sent to Van Leuven, who is being supported by friends and colleagues in and out of darts.

The chairman of the Dutch Darts Association, Paul Engelbertink, spoke on behalf of the organization to

“We have rules and guidelines in consultation with the NOC/NSF and the World Federation that we have to follow,” he said.

“In those, there are strict requirements to be allowed to participate in tournaments as a transgender person and Noa-Lynn meets them all.

“I can understand that all this can provoke reactions, but it is currently what it is.

“We support all three ladies, and no one expected this media storm. But in this matter, we do support Noa-Lynn.”

Engelbertink also commented on Zijlstra saying that she felt “shame” to be a Dutch national team player with a trans woman on the side. 

“Shame goes too far,” he said. “I have no sympathy for that statement, but I do understand that they have a different opinion.”

De Graaf wrote in a lengthy post on Facebook on Monday that it is important to “remain respectful to each other… everyone is allowed to have an opinion but do it in a respectful way.”

She said she would not be giving any interviews to the media on the matter. “This gives even more people the chance to react in a disrespectful way and I don’t want to cooperate with that.”

On Van Leuven, she added: “[She] is adhering to the rules that are in place at the moment, she’s doing nothing wrong. But I can give my opinion that I disagree with this rule.”

The PDC Women’s Series continues with the next four events on April 20-21, in Wigan.

You can follow Noa-Lynn van Leuven on Instagram.