Dean-Dani Laidley

The Brownlows’ “Cinderella Moment”

23 September 2022

3.1 MINS

The overblown celebration of former AFL coach Dean Laidley as glamorous Dani at the Brownlows strikes one as hollow praise.

The problem with Western culture is not that we lack compassion, but that we have too much.

It is commendable that the AFL community embraces former North Melbourne player and coach Dani Laidley. But it is nauseating to see that embrace transformed into mindless fawning.

It should be possible to accept Dani Laidley as a person without turning the famous footballer into a transgender icon.

Chequered Past

Laidley, who admitted to being a deeply troubled person, is trying to rebuild a life after drug abuse and facing criminal charges for stalking and breaking an AVO.

Laidley now identifies as a woman.

Like I said, no one begrudges 55-year-old Dani Laidley happiness, nor the right to live as they choose.

But wanting the best for Laidley is not reason enough to blind ourselves to reality.

Dani Laidley is a biological man — who pleaded guilty to stalking a woman — who has now appropriated womanhood.

The football media would have you believe Dani Laidley is Cinderella.

Saccharine Coverage

And no, I’m not exaggerating. That was literally how The Age newspaper described Laidley’s appearance in a long white dress at the Brownlow Medal ceremony on Monday night.

‘Dani Laidley’s Cinderella moment steals the show at the Brownlow,’ the newspaper reported.

The Daily Mail went further, reporting that Laidley ‘brought a touch of old Hollywood glamour to the carpet’.

Both newspapers went into great detail about Laidley’s dress, shoes, makeup, and handbag.

Laidley wore a ‘stunning off-the-shoulder white gown’ and ‘was all glammed up for the outing, her makeup palette consisted of dewy foundation and a smoky eye’ reported the Daily Mail breathlessly.

Seven Network presenter Emma Freedman gushed that Laidley was the highlight of the Brownlow Medal red carpet.

Many said Laidley ‘stole the show’, suggesting that Laidley looked better in a dress than the women.

The Truth Will Out

Of course, the media coverage insists that Laidley is a woman.

But the public is not so easily convinced, and the backlash on social media was enormous.

People are prepared to quietly accept grown adults living as they please. What they are not prepared to do — or not yet anyway — is to be gaslit by woke sporting organisations or journalists.

Many people questioned Laidley’s invitation to the Brownlow Medal ceremony, considering Laidley had never won the award and was not a current player or a coach. Invitations to the black tie event are strictly limited.

Perhaps the AFL invited Laidley as a gesture of goodwill, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Again, it’s commendable that people go out of their way to include a much-loved former player who has lost their way.

And Dani Laidley can wear whatever Dani Laidley wants.

But for the AFL, the Seven Network, and major news outlets to pretend Laidley is a glamorous woman, bringing style and glamour to the event as if Laidley were some kind of latter-day Grace Kelly, is just silly.

And for the public to then be chided for failing to play along is sillier still.


Women’s rights campaigner Sally Grover wrote:

‘To be honest, I can’t imagine a man getting a “Cinderella moment” after drug, stalking and DV charges *unless* he claimed he was a woman, and therefore is “stunning & brave”.’

Grover is right, of course. If Laidley had still identified as a man, it is highly unlikely there would have been an invite to the Brownlows, even if Laidley did qualify with on-field deeds.

The double standards of the media and the AFL are as obvious.

You have to feel for Laidley’s former teammate Wayne Carey. Carey, regarded by many as the greatest player the game has seen, was kicked out of a Perth casino last month after he was found to be in possession of white powder.

Carey has insisted he was not carrying any illicit substances, and that it was an anti-inflammatory drug to help manage pain.

Nevertheless, he has been dumped from a radio role, his regular column in The Age has gone missing, and a recent speaking engagement at the annual St Kevin’s Old Boys grand final luncheon in Melbourne was cancelled at the last minute. Perhaps he should have gone in a dress…

If that comment seems nasty, it’s not intended to be. Many people on social media made the connection. It’s the obvious conclusion from watching the carry-on around Dani Laidley; a carry-on that invites incredulity.

Dani Laidley deserves compassion because Dani Laidley is a fellow human being and none of us are immune to the vicissitudes of life.

But compassion that demands everybody lie, and that chides those who don’t, is no longer compassion; it has become something else altogether.


Originally published at The James Macpherson Report.

Subscribe to his Substack here for daily witty commentary.


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