‘Lifetime in the making’: Dani Laidley’s tell-all memoir is out soon

dani laidley donna leckie partner transgender book memoir don't look away harpercollins
Images: Instagram, HarperCollins

Dani Laidley says she felt “the whole spectrum of emotion” writing her new book Don’t Look Away, out later this month.

The former North Melbourne AFL star and coach, who’s transgender, will share her story about her 50-year journey living a “compartmentalised life” in a hyper-masculine sporting environment before finally “stepping into the world as Danielle May”.

HarperCollins is publishing Dani Laidley’s Don’t Look Away, “a memoir of identity and acceptance,” on August 30.

Laidley told the Herald Sun the project was “a lifetime in the making and years in the writing”.

“There were plenty of laughs and tears. I felt the whole spectrum of emotion writing the book,” she said.

“I have always wanted to write a book, but never thought it would look like this.

“The cover of the book is amazing. For me it conjures up a true reflection of myself — the different colours of my tribes, along with the squiggly lines, representing the confusion happening inside.

“I’m very proud of the team. Our best ideas came to fruition.”

Dani Laidley explained the book is “my story. A story that covers the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, and what it took for me to step into the world as my true self – Danielle May”.

Dani Laidley finds her peace after years of ‘fear and shame’

After a tough few years, including having her gender identity revealed publicly, Dani Laidley said in June she is now “absolutely at peace”.

Laidley said while growing up, it was “really difficult” knowing that she “felt so different on the inside to what was on the outside”.

“I started playing league footy when I was in high school. I had this persona. Some called me the Junkyard Dog back in the day,” she recalled.

“It was so far removed from the person I really was. That was very difficult and it took its toll.

“I felt like I was walking around with a boat anchor on my head for many, many years.

“I was too scared, ashamed, and embarrassed to go and find out about it. But I knew there was something different about how I was feeling.”

Laidley said that she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2017.

“[The dysphoria] causes a great deal of white noise, 24/7,” she said.

“It overtakes your thinking and overtakes your ability to live life normally. So playing and coaching and having a young family and all of those things.

“To be honest, I don’t know how I got here. But I am, and I am very glad.

“[My family] accept me for who I am. And hopefully there’s a lot of life to live.”

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