Danielle Laidley has broken her silence to reveal gut-wrenching details about her 50-year battle with gender dysphoria.
The 55-year-old West Australian detailed her struggles with transitioning in a 60 Minutes interview, which airs on Sunday.
“Life wasn’t easy, I found it hard until the end,” she told the programme.
“Now I can be myself with everyone.”
Ms Laidley said she would try to keep the decades-old secret from friends, family and fellow runners.
“She used to be a skinny kid, a bloke running around the field like crazy,” she tells 60 Minutes.
But that was part of the mask to hide it.
Ms Laidley revealed how they kept people at arm’s length for fear they might discover her true identity.
“I don’t let people get close to me,” she recalls.
“I thought I was coping well, but I wasn’t.
In May 2020, the 53-year-old was arrested wearing a dress and a hair wig, and charged with stalking and breaching a family violence order, among a series of other offences.
In the show, the former footy star reveals how her struggles took a dangerous turn, leading to drug addiction, mental health emergencies and ultimately a media storm.
During her arrest, police officers took a photo of Ms Laidley in her wig and outfit and shared it on social media.
The photo spread quickly, spreading her struggle with drugs on TV, radio and print media.
“The photos were an invasion of privacy,” she said.
While the former AFL star says she’s had a tough road, she says she’s at a point in her life where she’s confident in who she is.
“I don’t have to hide anymore.”