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Female Darts Star Forfeits Match as She Refuses to Face Transgender Player

A British female darts star has forfeit her chance to the win the Denmark Open after refusing to face a transgender player, calling for the sport to ban those athletes born as biological men.

Deta Hardman, 64, who has been a vocal critic of rules allowing transgender women to compete in women’s tournaments, pulled out of the quarter-final match against Noa-Lynn van Leuven.

Hedman, is one of the most well known figures in the women’s darts scene, and in the past has called on the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the World Darts Federation (WDF) to exclude transgender athletes from women’s tournaments.

‘I’m not playing against a man in a women’s event,’ bluntly told German newspaper Bild.

Supporters of Hedman were quick to offer the darts star compensation for her decision to boycott the tournament, offering to make up any prize money she may have lost.

Yet Denmark Darts paid her out in full for the event. It was reported that Hedman had initially told organisers she was ill but hitting back at the claim, she wrote on X: ‘No fake illness, I said I wouldn’t play a man in a ladies event.’

The sportswoman went onto write to Save Women’s Sport – an international campaign calling for ‘fairness in women’s sport’ that says ‘biological sex matters’.

Hedman said to the group: ‘This subject causing much angst in the sport I love . People can be whoever they want in life but I don’t think biological born men should compete in Women’s sport.’

Hedman’s decision to step back from her chance to fight for a place in the women’s final has received a mix reaction.

American former collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines has been won of her loudest supporters and offered to refund Hedman any prize money she missed out on by forfeiting her match.

Yet while Hedman was quick to thank Gaines for her ‘kind offer’ she reassured her fellow athlete ‘Denmark Darts paid me out in full for the event’.

Verteran pool player Lynne Pinches, who similarly forfeited her winning spot at the Ladies Champions of Champions after she refused to play her transgender opponent, praised Hedman’s decision.

‘Full respect for her standing for fairness,’ Pinches wrote on X. ‘It’s not an easy decision to make and we shouldn’t have to. Stop the madness please.’

Before attending the event in Denmark, Hedman had posted a picture onto her Facebook page captioned: ‘Women & Girls deserve to be CHAMPIONS in their own sports.’

Van Leuven, who became a woman in 2014, won two tournaments in March – the PDC Women’s Series in Wigan and a PDC Tour event in Hildesheim, Germany a week prior.

She faced off against Ireland’s Katie Sheldon in the final, triumphing 5-2 to claim £2,000 in prize money.

Since Van Leuven joined the Dutch national team, two of her compatriots have left in protest following her second triumph earlier this year.

Anca Zijlstra revealed she was stepping away ‘with pain in my heart’ – before world number two Aileen de Graaf quit hours later in vowing to no longer represent the Netherlands.

Outraged by the win, 18-time Grand Slam tennis champion Martina Navratilova said: ‘No male bodies in women’s sports please – not even in darts.’

‘Again – women get the short end of the stick. And it stinks,’ she continued on X.

Hedman was involved at the PDC Women’s Series in Wigan and hinted that the storm surrounding the inclusion of transgender players could lead to her quitting the sport.

She tweeted: ‘Not the best weekend at @Official PDC missed 2 darts in event 8 to get into semis. Always said I would stop playing when the enjoyment has gone from playing, think the present issues with the ladies game that time is getting closer.’

Meanwhile, back in December, Hedman called on transgender players including Van Leuven and Victoria Monaghan to be banned from ranked women’s tournaments in a lengthy Facebook statement.

She said: ‘For many months I’ve struggled with transgenders playing in the women’s world ranked events.’

She then went on to highlight how far women’s darts has come, after Hedman and others ‘fought to get better recognition for women’s darts’ back in the late 1980s.

Hedman said she ‘packed up’ in 1997 as she felt there was ‘little future for the ladies’ before returning when a women’s championship was formed.

She then adds: ‘Then came the acceptance of trans women being allowed to play in women’s sports by the WDF, PDC, county darts and independent events.

‘I have though this is wrong since day one, I have no problems with transgenders in life, I’m not close to Noa-Lynn in darts but in fairness seems a lovely person.

‘At Lakeside I met Victoria Monaghan and she is right character we had banter and a fair few laughs, but my personal view is trans shouldn’t playing in women’s ranked events.’

Hedman said she raised her concerns with the WDF, but that the governing body was ‘worried of legal challenges’ and that ‘they needed scientific proof a trans player has an advantage over biological women.’

She also claimed to have contacted Dr Linda Duffy – a former world number one in women’s darts – and mentioned her articles ‘showing exactly why trans players have advantages over biological women, especially when they have gone through puberty as a male.’

Hedman added: ‘In my opinion those (mainly men) who say no reasons why women can’t play as well as men are talking out of their rear end.’

The darts player is the latest female athlete to protest against sporting bodies decisions to allow transgender women to compete in the sport.

In November, pool player Pinches refused to play her transgender opponent Harriet Haynes at the Ladies Champions of Champions event in Denbighshire, Wales.

Footage shows the player approaching the referee to inform them of her decision to forfeit the game and wave goodbye to her chance of winning the tournament.

She then went back to her seat, packed up her cue and left the arena as a stunned audience watched on. Her bemused opponent was then left to pick up the trophy by default.

Pinches had been among a host of top female players to speak out over transgender women being allowed to compete against them in elite competitions.

The controversy now rocking the top levels of women’s professional pool began on October 24 when the sport’s international governing body, the World Eightball Pool Federation (WEPF), changed the rules over trans players’ participation in female tournaments.

Initially, in August, with increasing numbers of trans players applying to play in women’s tournaments, the WEPF had put out a joint statement with its main sponsor the Ultimate Pool Group ruling that ‘these events will be exclusively open to individuals who are born female.’

But just eight weeks later there was a shock reversal in this decision, which a number of women players have suggested was made under pressure of legal threats from trans competitors.

The WEPF and Ultimate Pool issued an update on ‘competition eligibility for transgender and non-binary players’ stating that there would be no discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.

Following Pinches’ decision to step back from the tournament, her brother Barry spoke out in support, praising his sister for ‘taking a stand’ and voiced his opinion that it was ‘unfair’ for her to be drawn against a trans player.

‘Full credit and great respect to my sister Lynne Pinches yesterday for taking a stand and not playing in the biggest match of her pool playing life because she feels it’s so unfair to have to compete against a trans woman,’ he said.

‘I completely agree with her view that it is totally unfair to expect women to compete against trans women in pool or any other sport for that matter.’

READ 24 COMMENTS
  • Jannie Alderson says:

    It is about time you women stand up for yourselfs.

  • LindsB says:

    Several basic spelling errors in this article. Needs to be proofed better. “Won” in place of “one”– and “though” instead of “thought.”

    I agree with the content and proud of these female athletes for standing their ground.
    No male bodies in women’s sports. It’s biology and biology is not fluid.

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