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Very sad news: LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner – Christine Daniels for a time – has been found dead

Mike Penner

My heart goes out to the family and friends of Los Angeles Times sportswriter Mike Penner who, for a time, was transitioning to female under the name Christine Daniels.

This is so incredibly sad.

Suicide is suspected in Mike’s death, reports The Times. He was just 52.

Mike made international headlines in 2007 when he announced he was transsexual and began to work under the byline Christine Daniels and started the blog Woman in Transition. That summer, as Christine, Penner came to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Assn. convention in San Diego and wowed us all with the story of her transition. she spoke, my friends Kenneth Walsh, Johnny Diaz and I went up to tell her how much we admired her courage. I knew her as Mike years earlier when we were both working for the Los Angeles Times in its then-booming Orange County headquarters.

(That’s a photo I took in San Diego of Christine and Kenneth who blogs as Kennethinthe212)

I will always fondly remember that day in San Diego. When I read last year that Christine had gone back to the Mike Penner byline, it was clear there was some conflict regarding the transition. I think everyone just hoped he could find a way to be happy with whatever gender he lived as.

“He was one of the most talented writers I’ve ever worked with,” said Times Sports Editor Mike James, adding that Penner covered numerous beats including the National Football League and sports media during his more than two-decade-long career at the paper.

“He was a gentle man, a kind man,” James said. “It’s just a tragedy.”

During his time as Christine Daniels, Penner did speak out for transgender equality. In the fall of 2007, she  took Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others for leaving transgendered persons out of Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA]. ENDA would make it illegal to fire or refuse to hire or promote anyone based simply on the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Christine wrote that the politicians “didn’t know what hit them” when the transgender community picked itself up and fought back.

Penner’s conflict is clear in remarks he gave to The Times’ James Rainey in an interview in April 2007: “I spent my whole life with nose pressed against the window thinking, ‘Why can’t I get to the other side?’ ” Daniels said. “I thought it would be so much easier for me” to be a woman.

“It came to the point … even though you are scared to death, you have to try to change, because staying the same is even more difficult.”

FILE UNDER: Transgendered


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One Remark

  1. Greg, thanks for sharing this. I remember that afternoon fondly and how we (the three of us) were captivated by his/her story.

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