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Featured Image Credit: North Melbourne Football Club/North Melbourne. Danielle Laidley/Instagram.
Former AFL star and coach Dani Laidley has opened up about her battle with gender dysphoria and a devastating incident with the Victoria Police.
Laidley who coached North Melbourne Kangaroos from 2003 to 2009 appeared on 60 Minutes to speak about her gender transition.
Back in 2020 Laidley was arrested for stalking and breaching a family violence order, however, her treatment by police officers has been acknowledged as a breach of privacy and human rights.
The officers who took her into custody leaked a photo of Laidley wearing a dress and a wig to the public, seeing her unwillingly thrust into the public eye.
It was an act that Laidley called an ‘invasion of privacy’.
She was later issued a public apology from chief commissioner Shane Patton.
Laidley’s very private struggles were now out for the public to see, however, with the dust settling on that period she now says she is more comfortable with who she is.
She told 60 Minutes: “Life hasn’t been easy I’ve found it tough the whole way through.
“Now I can be myself with everyone.”
The former AFL Premiership winner admitted she had spent most of her life trying to keep her true identity away from friends, family and teammates.
She said: “There used to be a skinny kid, bloke running around a footy field like a maniac.
“But that was a part of the mask, to cover up.
“I wouldn’t let people get close to me. I thought I was coping really well, but obviously that wasn’t the case.”
Following the 2020 incident, her former Kangaroos team rallied behind her and she made her first true public appearance at a celebration for the North Melbourne side clearing their debt.
Later that day she gave a speech for Transgender Awareness Week at a forum in Torquay.
Earlier this year, Laidley became part of the Triple M commentary team and discussed more openly about gender dysphoria.
She said: “It’s been a tough road to here but I’ve just been really overwhelmed just by the support of the wider AFL community,” Laidley said.
"You live in fear and shame and embarrassment for years and then to come out like it did, it’s been really tough on my family, but now, to a person, it’s been great.
"They accept me for who I am, the person I am now, and hopefully there’s a lot of life to live.”
She added: “Gender dysphoria is the medical condition for people who their gender identity is not congruent with how they feel on the inside (to) what is on the outside.
“It again is different from our sex, that is the bits that we’re born with. And then you have your sexual preference, who you’re attracted to. I’m a girl's girl and my lovely Donna will be listening down in the stands.
“That’s gender dysphoria, it causes a great deal of white noise 24/7 and overtakes your thinking and overtakes your ability to live life normally."