Don't Look Away
Danielle Laidley with Konrad Marshall | Paperback | August 2022
Fearless. Tough. Uncompromising.
This was the persona of former elite footballer and senior AFL coach Danielle Laidley.
Fearful. Vulnerable. Uncertain.
This is how Danielle felt for most of her life.
For the best part of five decades, within a hyper-masculine sporting environment, Danielle Laidley harboured a secret. As a boy growing up in the backblocks of Perth, as a teenager and young man playing AFL, as a married father of three, she knew she was female, regardless of the gender she was assigned at birth.
For years Danielle lived a compartmentalised life, managing her secret first with a relentless quest for sporting success and workaholism, and eventually with substances that dulled the pain. She covertly experimented with her transgender life but eventually rumours began to circulate. The walls started closing in. Then there was nowhere to hide.
This is an unflinching account of what it's like to know you don't fit the body you were born into, and the desperate measures taken to mask the fear of being outed, of losing those you love. It's also an uncensored behind-the-scenes look at elite football from the perspective of player and coach, where Danielle is both participant in and analytical observer of her double life.
It's about the courage it takes to step into the world as Danielle May.