The pool matriarch who snubbed her transgender opponent because she ‘refuses to be silenced’: Teetotal Lynne Pinches, 50, who comes from a family of elite players, reveals she ‘cried until 3am’ after bosses changed rules on trans competitors
- Pool player says she has transgender friends but think sport rules are unfair
When Lynne Pinches approached the pool table on Saturday night, wearing a shirt with the jokey ‘Barry’s sister’ printed on the back, there was nothing to suggest what would follow.
But as she shook hands with opponent Harriet Haynes – a trans woman – then refused to play, putting her handbag on her shoulder and walking off, she sent a shockwave through the sport.
No one watching could have known Lynne had been up all night, two days in a row, crying herself to sleep after tournament organisers U-turned on transgender being allowed to play in the women’s category.
And as her family had rallied round her ahead of the English Pool Association event, it was something her son Tommy – another player – had said which prompted her to act.
Lynne, 50, disclosed: ‘The devastation I have felt, I can’t even explain. I didn’t eat or sleep properly for two days. I was crying until 3am. I was devastated. My son Tommy, who plays on the Ultimate Pool Challenger Series, messaged me and said, “I know you must be absolutely devastated mum, because I know that you’ve you’ve hated this since the beginning”.
The family-oriented mother is also keen on positive thinking, with a slew of memes urging herself on
The mother-of-three says she has transgender friends and is only concerned with fairness in sport
Her jokey red t-shirt is a reference to brother Barry, a professional player and former top 32 and ranking-event quarter-finalist
‘He really wanted to write it on his Facebook but he was worried he’d get banned. And that’s what pushed me over the edge to be honest. I thought “you’ve silenced me for years. You’re not silencing my child as well”. I’m not putting up with that.
READ MORE: Pool player Lynne Pinches’ brother praises her for ‘taking a stand’ after she refused to play transgender opponent in final of tournament and says she ‘feels it’s so unfair to compete against a trans woman’
‘I don’t care about the money or the title or the trophy. I care about fairness. If they hadn’t done that U-turn, we wouldn’t be here now. We were all so elated when they originally said they were going to have a strict category for biological females,’ she told the Telegraph.
Lynne is the matriarch of a big pool playing family, her sons Alex and Tommy Lewis are elite players.
And her jokey red t-shirt is a reference to brother Barry, a professional player and former top 32 and ranking-event quarter-finalist.
Lynne, who lives in Norwich, has been on incredible form around the pool table in recent years.
She gave up drinking completely in 2020 and is now strictly teetotal.
The mother-of-three says she has transgender friends and is only concerned with fairness in sport.
She has played competitively for 30 years and Saturday marked the first ever time she had quit a game.
Her public social media profile appears to show a life full of pets – with a dog, bird and even an iguana featured.
Lynne’s social media features a number of animals that appear to be pets including this dog
Lynne has played competitively for 30 years and Saturday marked the first ever time she had quit a game
Lynne’s brother Barry Pinches, right, alongside Ronnie O’Sullivan back in February 2016
One of the inspirational Lynne has placed on her social media to invoke positivity
And the family-oriented mother is also keen on positive thinking, with a slew of memes urging herself on.
One declares: ‘Strong women never give up. We might need a coffee, a cry, or even a day in bed but we come back stronger.’
And on Saturday, Lynne will have felt that she did just that.
Her brother, Barry, took to social media to praise 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.
Lynne Pinches (left) refused to face Harriet Haynes on Sunday, with her opponent left stunned
Haynes was awarded the Women’s Champions of Champions title by default after Pinches’ withdrawal
‘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.’
Lynne 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.’
Lynne Pinches stayed on site to pose with her runners-up trophy despite her retirement
Haynes was also crowned the 2023 Ladies Masters Champion in what has been an impressive 2023
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.
They stipulated that they would operate a gender ‘self-identification policy’ for competitors, but added that they reserved the right to test that testosterone had been suppressed to the levels required of trans athletes by the International Olympic Committee.
Within a week of this announcement more than 60 professional female pool players joined forces through a WhatsApp support group to oppose the changes, the Mail on Sunday was told.
After his sister’s walkout on Sunday, Barry said that the sport would look back in years to come and conclude that it is ‘grossly unfair on women who have practised hard and are competing in their chosen sport’.
Barry added: ‘For the record, this post is about fairness in women’s sport, that is all. I have no problem whatsoever if somebody wants to identify themselves as whatever they want to be and I have nothing against Harriet Haynes.’
Pinches had defeated the England captain in the semi-finals 5-4 in a game that her son, Tommy, has claimed was ‘her final’.
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