“My upbringing was tough,” Danielle Laidley says. “Going back over it was therapeutic, but emotionally distressing at times.
“But I look back now and think, ‘Would I change anything?’ I don’t think so. It helped me become the person I am today.”
Laidley’s dad drank. If she played poorly, he called her a pussy. If she played well, she was a poser. At 12, she was booted out of home. “I can’t afford you,” he said. “You’re going to have to go.”
Her “other self”, she writes in her book Don’t Look Away, was “like a conjoined twin I couldn’t quite absorb”. At first, dressing in women’s clothes and applying makeup brought peace. But then came the self-loathing, the alienation, the fear. This was the 1980s. There was no internet. No one talked about gender dysphoria, and certainly not at football clubs.
Laidley, then known by her birth name Dean, learnt…