Stan Original Documentary 'Revealed - Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes' is a story of true resilience.

Danielle Laidley has lived a life straddling two communities.

She rose to prominence as a successful men's AFL player, playing 151 games for the West Coast Eagles and North Melbourne football clubs. After retiring, Laidley became one of the youngest head coaches in the league.

While the footballer appeared to have a thriving career on the outside, internally, she was struggling with her gender identity. As a child, Danielle was tempted to try nail polish, and as a teenager, she would spend her weekends trying on women's clothing.

It would take decades of hiding her identity as a transgender woman for her to eventually embrace her true self later in life. This journey to self-discovery is explored in Stan Original Documentary Revealed - Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes, which can be streamed now on Stan.

Watch the trailer for the Stan Original Documentary Revealed - Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes. Post continues below.

Danielle told Mamamia she hopes this film will help people going through issues with their own gender identity, sexual orientation, mental health, and addiction. "It could also be helpful for a daughter or a son, and niece and nephew, and auntie and uncle, so that they can understand some of these issues," she said.

Laidley grew up in a time when conversations about being transgender, or gender diverse, were confined to the shadows. "My family situation didn't allow for any conversations about that, particularly in the early '70s and early '80s. There was no internet, no researching, no reading. Not really understanding it was really difficult."

Thankfully, the conversations around gender and sexuality have slowly shifted over time. "It's a much safer place for people to express how they're feeling. And I think that's a great thing," she said.


"But the reality is there's always going to be the haters out there. That's fine. It might not be their cup of tea."

As far as Danielle's identity, she speaks in the documentary about resisting the term 'transitioning' as it suggests there's a finish line.

"I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, 'I finished my transition'... it's an ongoing process mentally, physically, and spiritually," she said. 

"If someone looked back and they were the same person as they were five years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, I think they'd be very disappointed."

Image: Supplied.


Danielle's journey to living as her most authentic self has not been easy. In 2020, after being arrested during a drug-fuelled spiral, Danielle's photos were leaked by a number of Victorian police officers, essentially outing the football star to all her friends and family.

"The narrative from when it became so public was a misinterpretation, there were a lot of untruths," she said. "We wanted to take back the control of the narrative and tell the story in my words."

In May 2021, Laidley launched a negligence claim against Victoria Police in which she alleged that the force and its officers had breached her duty of care while she was in custody.

In March 2022, Laidley received a confidential financial settlement from Victoria Police.

The police who shared the photos did not lose their jobs.  

Reflecting on that time in her life, Laidley is taking the high road. "There's a bit of space between what happened then and now. I've had to do a lot of work to be able to let go of what happened and understand the emotion attached to it.

"I've always thought if you continue to drink someone's poison, you're the one that will continue to suffer. If you continue to look in the rearview mirror, you'll always end up crashing," she said.

"It was a point in my time I will never forget. But as time goes on, there is some forgiveness there on my part. But it's also been incredibly tough for my family, and particularly my kids."


Danielle revealed in the documentary that after the photos were leaked, her daughters cut off communication with her. 

In July 2023, the same Victorian police officer who shared images of former AFL player, Det Sr Const Murray Gentner, was fired for once again sharing photos, this time involving images of a deceased person at a crime scene.

Image: Supplied. 

"The legislation now has been changed because of my case, so I can look back with some satisfaction in regards to that particular person. I feel sorry for the person [in the photos] and their family, who have had to go through what we went through – there's no need for that to happen again."


After being forced to come out, Danielle discovered that the football community she assumed would be the most resistant to her identity was actually the opposite. "Initially, I thought football may possibly kill me. And it's been quite the opposite. From when it became very, very public, the people that I lived in fear of telling about me, they are the ones that have been so wonderfully supportive, understanding and helped me on a daily basis," she said.

"That's why football has saved my life."

Another unexpected source of support has been Danielle's long-term partner, Donna Leckie. The pair first dated in school before they went their separate ways. Danielle married Joanne Laidley but reconnected with Donna when she was going through her hardest times.

Revealed - Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes chronicles Laidley’s life from childhood to becoming sports star and her role as a transgender advocate, with raw and honest footage of Laidley's journey – as she puts it – "warts and all".

"My story shows all facets of of my life," she said.

"I hope that if anyone has any issues, they learn you can't go through this life doing it all yourself. You can be vulnerable, you can reach out, and you can find in your network and family some good people that will help you out."

Stan Original Documentary Revealed - Danielle Laidley: Two Tribes premiered on September 19 only on Stan.

Feature image: Supplied.

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