Irish pool legend Kim O’Brien opts out of match against transgender competitor

Irish pool legend Kim O’Brien opts out of match against transgender competitor

Irish pool champion Kim O’Brien has forfeited her place in the European Pool Championships after refusing to play against her transgender competitor, Harriet Haynes. Haynes transitioned from male to female 10 years ago, at the age of 23.

O'Brien, known affectionately as 'Miss Cue', has dedicated 25 years to representing Suffolk County in billiards. For approximately eleven of those years, she has held the esteemed position of captain. Additionally, O'Brien serves as the captain for her international team, Ireland, where she currently holds the top ranking.

Kim began her competitive journey with the England team in 1992, where she remained for five years before making the decision to switch allegiances and represent Ireland.

In her inaugural appearance at the World Championships, O'Brien reached the quarterfinals. Remarkably, she has been a consistent presence at the World Championships in Blackpool for twelve consecutive years.

O'Brien also boasts an impressive track record as a champion. She has clinched the Suffolk championship title for numerous years, triumphed as the Irish champion five times, and achieved the prestigious title of European Champion in both 2001 and 2010. Notably, she is only the second woman to have secured this title twice and is well known in the scene.

This week, a viral video has put both Haynes and O'Brien firmly in the spotlight and attracted huge attention from American commentators and women's rights activists.

The European Championship pool final between Haynes and O'Brien was about to commence on Thursday, February 29; however, O’Brien refused to play and gifted the victory to her opponent. Haynes accepted her hand.

O'Brien's reluctance to play the game against Haynes has opened up the ongoing debate about transgender athletes competing in women's sports.

Long-time activist Riley Gaines, media pundits Sage Steele, Megyn Kelly, and entrepreneur Seth Dillon have all commented on the incident.

"Absolutely Incredible. At the European Pool Championships, female player Kim O’Brien forfeited the women’s final where she was set to play male player Harriet Haynes," said Gaines on her X account.

“I am happily paying her the prize money she lost out on. Stop playing their game. More of this!!” she added.

Other accounts have commented on the video, saying, "All the women fighting this are absolute heroes. So much respect for them. And congratulations to Kim O’Brien, Pool Champion of the year and making Ireland proud."

This follows an incident involving Haynes where she was put in a similar situation last year when Lynne Pinches refused to compete against the Kent-based cueist, claiming that she made her decision in "pursuit of fairness."