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Trans L.A. Times Sportswriter Mike Penner Takes His Own Life

Longtime L.A. Times sportswriter Mike Penner, who made headlines in 2007 when he announced he was transitioning and would be taking the name Christine Daniels, has died in L.A. Authorities suspect he committed suicide.

Said Penner in his April 2007 columnPenner "Today I leave for a few weeks' vacation, and when I return, I will come back in yet another incarnation...As Christine [Daniels]...I am a transsexual sportswriter. It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words. I realize many readers and colleagues and friends will be shocked to read them."

Penner's gender identity made the news again last year when he announced that he would be taking back the name Mike Penner.

Said Times Sports Editor Mike James: "He was one of the most talented writers I've ever worked with. He was a gentle man, a kind man. It's just a tragedy."

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  1. Oh no! I met Christine/Mike a few times through my friends at Outsports and we had a great time talking about sports. Anyone that loathes Tommy Lasorda as much as I do like Penner is a-OK with me. A very quiet, intelligent person and a fantastic writer too.

    RIP, Mike > Christine > Mike.

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Nov 28, 2009 5:29:54 PM

  2. Very sad.

    Posted by: peterparker | Nov 28, 2009 7:59:37 PM

  3. I use to judge and not understand transgender people, I still do no know what they go through, but they walk a road much harder that I did as a gay man. Rest in peace Penner, I know that to take your own life the pain is beyond reason.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 28, 2009 8:08:03 PM

  4. Thanks for covering this, Andy. Mike/Christine was my favorite sportswriter at the Times (I don't think I'd know anything about international football if not for Penner), and this really shows that transgendered individuals have it much worse than garden variety gay men and Lesbians in American society.

    Rest in peace.

    Posted by: Dave in Northridge | Nov 28, 2009 10:22:33 PM

  5. Heartbreaking. Rest in Peace.

    Posted by: Critifur | Nov 29, 2009 1:38:34 AM

  6. The walks of shame he stepped through must have been so, so difficult. Too much! And then gone in a moment. I was suicidal in the past. Thought, "there is no way out of this. I hurt too much."

    So sad.

    Posted by: Brad | Nov 29, 2009 9:25:06 AM

  7. I still don't understand, after 45 years, why we are refered to as GAY!
    Ain't nothin' Gay about it!

    Posted by: JIM | Nov 29, 2009 11:17:47 AM

  8. It's always tragic that some of us - gay, straight, trans, bi, anything in between - lose ourselves on the road to finding ourselves. I only hope there was peace at last to be found.

    Posted by: Jay | Nov 29, 2009 1:01:25 PM

  9. I was so heartbroken to read this. Penner was a terrific writer, and a very gentle and kind fellow. In the event some young kid (or adult for that matter) is reading the comment section on this story, I just want to counter another commentator. Sure, there are struggles that come along with being different in society, but then there are always struggles long every path that runs through human history--straight, transgendered and gay. Part of the cautionary tale that is Penner's is self-acceptance. When I was a bit younger, coming out, I resented the label "gay," because it just sounded to my ear then to be flighty; but along the journey, I've learned to embrace it. It is not true that there is nothing "gay" to be found in our lives, our existence, our experience. We are an amazing community of people--the only minority that encompasses true diversity in color, culture, faith, behavior and even mannerisms. There is a whole lot of courage in our world, from the drag queens who invite us to laugh with them and at ourselves, to men like Brandon Burke, whose story you can find on this blog--a hockey player who came out to his teammates and then to the rest of the hockey world, and thus to professional athletes everywhere, including those gay who live in fear of being found out.

    There are plenty of happy, well adjusted gay people out there, (including this one), whose first step towards happiness was embracing themselves for whom they are...including being gay. In fact, perhaps the greatest blessing in my life has been finding the man I met 10 years ago, who introduced me to something I had not experienced as a child, and that is a loving and supportive family.

    Yes, there are challenges to being gay, but there are to be found in it wondrous triumphs that are lost on those who are not as fortunate as we are to take the road less traveled.

    Posted by: MackMichael | Nov 29, 2009 1:25:44 PM

  10. hey mack michael

    thanks for putting that up - good points and its true that even though we might be segregated and caught up in some in-fighting and misunderstanding, we are an icredibly diverse minority, and this gives an opportunity to learn across lines.

    Posted by: z | Nov 30, 2009 12:03:09 AM

  11. This is further proof that transgendered people and gay men should NOT be put in the same category. So many of these transgendered people change their sex and then regret it or kill themselves. It's a mental illness plain and simple. It's also a totally selfish act... forcing your children and coworkers to accept that you are a man in drag.

    Posted by: Give me a break | Nov 30, 2009 10:06:16 AM

  12. I would not go as far as Give Me A Break (troll much?) but there is no medical way to change sex/gender, just as cosmetic surgery does not make you any younger or even more beautiful. Doctors need to do a careful psychological evaluation to determine the roots of the depression that are often so apparent. In this case they screwed up and re-assignment did not cure the depression. The clear distinction is that unlike being gay, this is also a medical condition and we should not be glib about it.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 30, 2009 2:15:06 PM

  13. "It's a mental illness plain and simple."

    Yes, and all homosexual men are healthy minded and stable--going about their healthy, stable lives. Anything else to say, Mr Cohn?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 30, 2009 2:30:55 PM

  14. I am so dismayed to read the comments here. The social conservatives presume to be able to speak about you lives and loves, without ever having to live it, and we cry against such presumption. I wonder how many here who have made comments are transgendered, and are thus able to discuss with any authenticity the trials and tribulations associated. And, who knows why Penner killed himself? All we know was that he was unable to accept who he was at the time he did himself in--perhaps that was because he was gay, transgendered, broke, depressed. Who is to say? As I remarked above, the foremost issue is to accept one's self as one really is, and then work from there. Meanwhile, let us not make pronouncements about lives we are ill equipped to make judgements of.

    Posted by: MackMichael | Nov 30, 2009 5:12:18 PM

  15. I wish Anon could remind us all of the name of the medical procedure that allows us to change sexual orientation. I'm a little hazy.

    How hard it is to understand that the same spin in our brains that tells us we're gay, bi, or lesbian is the same one that tells transgendered people they are, at their core, not the gender they were born.

    Or are you too busy judging because they can't all pass, or maybe a lot of times you can 'tell?' It's about how you feel. Maybe try educating yourselves instead of passing the same uninformed judgment so many people do to us.

    Posted by: antisaint | Aug 10, 2011 8:20:30 PM

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