Dani Laidley

A charge of stalking becomes national news when the alleged stalker is AMAB in women’s clothes. Reporting on Dani Laidley treats them as a man, even while stating they asked police to call them Daniella. It also shows the photographs of them in a wig and dress taken by a police officer, even while condemning that police officer who is suspended and likely to lose his job.

Dean Laidley was a former player in the Australian Football League, then coach of North Melbourne. Aussie Rules football is a contact sport played with an oval ball, played all over the world though only professionally in Australia, where it is the most popular sport. The leaked photographs, published by the Murdoch outlets, show them in the interview room with a long blonde wig, and in a mugshot with makeup but without the wig, showing a man’s haircut, short at the sides, apparently receding. Now they have been outed, I comment on the outing.

Senior cop stood down over ‘appalling’ photo leak as troubled ex-AFL coach faces seven charges, blared Murdoch, even while showing both photographs. Laidley’s alleged crime is not the news: a report says further charges are to be revealed at a court hearing on May 11. ‘If only they knew’: Ex-AFL coach’s former manager, teammate react to troubling police photos it blared in a separate article, though that turns out to be one of those non-news articles where two tweets are quoted and waffled over. Summarise the tweet, quote the tweet, say what the tweet said. Ricky Nixon tweeted, “Guess who’s the least surprised person in Aust. on Dean Laidley — if only the media knew what I knew,” and then deleted it, saying Laidley had confided in him for fifteen years. I think most have taken my original tweet re: Dean Laidley the wrong way regardless of what he’s been charged with everyone is different stop being jealous.

Of course the Daily Mail also published the photos, with the headline Dean Laidley’s fall from grace: The tragic moment that left the AFL great a ‘broken man’ before his shocking arrest on stalking charges while on bail and dressed as a woman. “Tragic”, they giggle. They begin, AFL great Dean Laidley was a tormented soul who never fully recovered from the death of a footy fan he clashed with in 2006. “Clashed with”- what? Body-slammed? No, the man harangued him about how badly the team was doing, footage of the confrontation was broadcast nationally, and that evening the fan killed himself.

The Mail quotes, The images circulating of a high-profile arrest today are [a] deplorable breach of privacy,’ Liberty Victoria tweeted. The transphobic overtones only serve to make the breach even more egregious. Not good enough @VictoriaPolice: we are watching.
Please deal with this unacceptable incident swiftly & properly.

Transphobic overtones. Well, yes. There are few details: Dean Laidley has been arrested; photos from the police station of them dressed female were leaked, and a police officer has been suspended; various people have commented. The claim that they “demanded” to be addressed as Daniella came from The West Australian (behind a paywall) and was quoted elsewhere, including here.

Why is it newsworthy? Because they were a prominent professional athlete and coach, but also because they were dressed female. That someone is trans should not be in the news unless they want it to be: I find “My Struggle” articles problematic for other reasons, but outing someone is transphobic. Why mention it at all, except for prurient motives? Then, all the transphobia is in the reader. The transphobe looks at that pitiable mugshot and feels disgust- disgust for all of us, as the association is with perversion. The photo is published to produce that result. I can see no other reason why it should interest anyone. The Mail reported that he had been seen outside barefoot and “dishevelled”- but there are no photos of that.

Another Mail article quoted at length things people had said on TV about the case, and that Laidley’s drug use and “lifestyle choices”- unnamed, but what else but the dressing?- were an “open secret”. And published the photos again.

That Laidley cross-dresses should not be reported. It should not matter. They are interesting because they are an athlete. Being trans is a normal attribute, of a small minority. The press mentions it because they think people will be amused or disgusted. On May 11th, at the bail hearing, their barrister stated they have gender dysphoria, but referred to them as “him”. They were released to a rehab centre, but the alleged stalked woman stated she was petrified of them and exhausted by their attention.

11 November: Dani Laidley has now transitioned. While in prison on remand, she hid drugs in her bra, and was charged with that. She had to write a thank you letter to the officer who arrested her. However, because of the release of photos of her in custody, the magistrate said she had suffered significant extra-curial punishment, and if she remains out of trouble for four months those charges will be dropped. She still faces charges of stalking.

18 November: we now have the stalking charges. The victim was living in a house she owned jointly with Laidley. On 16 April the victim obtained an intervention order against her, but she continued to send texts, 43 in one day, sometimes high on methamphetamine, including a marriage proposal. This is clearly not acceptable, but the magistrate today gave her an 18 month good behaviour bond. This will be broken if she contacts her victim again. As Laidley was high on drugs, the magistrate could not conclude that Laidley intended to cause harm, or knew that her conduct was likely to cause harm or raise apprehension or fear.

To me, that she intended to send the texts should be sufficient, that it was stalking should be considered objectively- 43 unwanted texts in a day is harassment- and her guilt should be based on the effect on her victim. However, if she does not get high again she may have the sense not to breach the bond, so I agree with the sentence: the coverage is a penalty, and the bond may prevent further stalking.

The Daily Mail reported this breathlessly, referring to her as “fallen AFL legend ‘Dani’ Laidley” and giving details of her medical treatment.

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