A transgender woman has been told she is not permitted to take part in a regional darts tournament in Palmerston North next weekend as organizers do not have a transgender policy.
Women and men compete in separate individual competitions at Association of New Zealand Darts Clubs events.
The association is one of three darts authorities in New Zealand and the only one that does not have a transgender policy. Its rules do not mention transgender athletes, simply saying that men compete in men’s competition and women in women’s competition.
Vee, who asked to keep her last name anonymous for privacy reasons, said as a woman she didn’t understand why she couldn’t compete.
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“Legally I’m a woman and they can’t stop me from playing,” Vee said. “But they will stop me from playing, which is against human rights and against discrimination.”
Vee has not played in a darts tournament in four years, previously playing in the men’s competition and being nationally ranked.
She made the decision to transition over a year ago, feeling different since childhood.
Although Vee is much happier now that she’s made the transition, she said the exclusion from playing was hurtful.
“It drives me crazy,” she said. “I’m sitting on a razor blade here, which way should I go, you know. Do I just say, I won’t play, or do I keep fighting for my rights and know I’m going to be seen as the wrong person in the end?
“The fact that they won’t let me play is much more problematic than if they had let me play.”
Clubs New Zealand Darts Association president Duncan Ellis said the board would discuss the matter on July 8, the day before the organization’s annual meeting.
A policy will be decided and submitted to the membership at the next day’s meeting, with a vote deciding whether it is implemented.
Ellis said Vee was not “banned” from playing, but he could not take part in next weekend’s tournament for clubs on the West Coast of the North Island.
“She can’t play, not until it’s been discussed,” he said. “We appreciate his position, but I have to watch over [Vee’s] interests, and also looking out for the interests of our members.
He said the board first discussed the matter on Saturday and that a special meeting to create policy could not take place before the tournament, as the constitution rules stipulate a one-month deadline before such a meeting.
Vee said he informed the association of his intention to perform about a month ago, giving board members plenty of time to hold a special meeting and implement a transgender policy.
Ellis called it a “timing problem” and said he would advocate for transgender inclusion.
“Most definitely, I think she should be allowed to play,” he said. “I have a gay cousin. I have no problem with his competition. I fully support him.
“But we have to follow our policy and discuss it with the board and our members. I appreciate that she will miss the West Coast Championships.
Ellis said once a decision is made at the national annual meeting, it will be implemented immediately.
Vee said it would be too late.
“Basically because they don’t have a policy, there is only a men’s competition and a women’s competition, which I am currently qualified to participate in. They make a personal decision,” Vee said.
“They could decide, according to our rules, she is allowed to play. They could say that. But instead, they prevent me from playing. They violate human rights instead of enabling inclusion.
David Rutherford, special adviser to the Center for Sport and Human Rights, said any decisions made by the association on transgender inclusion had to comply with New Zealand law.
“There is an exception for sport,” Rutherford said. “He doesn’t say anything in the [Human Rights Act] should prevent the exclusion of persons of one sex from participation in any competitive sporting activity in which the strength, endurance or physique of the competitors is important”,
“I don’t know enough about darts, but at first glance, [strength, stamina and physique] is not important.
Vee said the keys to being a good darts player are mentality – dealing with setbacks and match situations – and hand-eye coordination.
She said size and strength do not define a good darts player.
“Phil Taylor was a 16-time world champion and he was 5’8,” Vee said. “Fallon Sherrock is a great darts player.
“Being a man doesn’t make you a great darts player.”
Ellis, when asked if transgender men or women have an advantage over women at darts, replied, “I can’t answer that question without researching it.”
Rutherford said the association must implement an inclusive policy that upholds human rights law.
“They may have to put it to a vote according to their constitution,” Rutherford said, “but that doesn’t change whether it’s legal or not.
“The key point is that they have to make a legal decision. The law is basically that there is no discrimination, but there are categories of discrimination that are allowed, and you have to be sure that you do that. part.
The other two darts authorities in New Zealand have transgender policies.
The Professional Darts Corporation, PDC, has an open policy with men and women, including transgender people, competing against each other.
The New Zealand Darts Council follows World Darts Federation rules, with transgender women having to prove lower testosterone levels and female identification to compete.