Mike Penner (October 10, 1957 – November 27, 2009) was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times. Penner self-identified as being transsexual in a 2007 column and returned from a vacation writing with the name Christine Daniels, before resuming his original name in 2008 and then committing suicide in 2009.
Early life and education
Penner began his journalism career at the Anaheim Bulletin as a writer and sports editor. He then joined the Los Angeles Times in 1983 as a staff writer for the paper's Orange County edition. Initially reporting on high school sports, Penner went on to cover a variety of national and international sporting events including the Olympics, Major League Baseball, tennis, and World Cup soccer.
Later in his career, in addition to covering sports, Penner also began writing about transsexual identity and the process of gender transition from an autobiographical perspective. The first such piece he wrote for the Times was an essay entitled "Old Mike, New Christine" that appeared in the paper in April 2007. In it, he wrote about his lifelong struggle to come to terms with his transsexuality:
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. ... When you reach the point when one gender causes heartache and unbearable discomfort, and the other brings more joy and fulfillment than you ever imagined possible, it shouldn't take two tons of bricks to fall in order to know what to do.
Penner lived and wrote as Christine Daniels for more than a year, continuing to document his own experience with gender transition in the LA Times' blog "Woman in Progress". Daniels' writing became a source of hope for people across the country with gender-identity issues.
Penner wrote as Christine Daniels from July 2007 until about March 2008; without elaboration, he resumed using Mike Penner as his byline in October 2008.
Penner was a member of the Times' sports staff at the time of his death.
Penner was found dead in his Los Angeles home on November 28, 2009 of an apparent suicide. The coroner's report determined that he died of carbon-monoxide poisoning after running a hose from his car's exhaust pipe into the car while it ran in his apartment building's subterranean garage.
Notes and references
- Mike Penner dies at 52; Los Angeles Times sportswriter Los Angeles Times, November 29, 2009
- A writer's transformation makes the personal public Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2007
- "Old Mike, new Christine". LA Times. April 26, 2007. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
- "Transsexual 'L.A. Times' Sportswriter Dead". National Public Radio. Retrieved November 29, 2009.
- "Mike Penner returns to Los Angeles Times". LA Observed. Retrieved November 28, 2009.
- "Transsexual sports columnist comes out.". Outsports. April 26, 2007. Retrieved April 28, 2007.
- "Mike Penner, Christine Daniels: A Tragic Love Story". LA Weekly. August 19, 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- Woman in Progress, Daniels' blog at latimes.com [not accessible as of October 21, 2008]
- Mike Penner, "Old Mike, New Christine," Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2007. Also available here
- Laura Coverson, "Sportswriter Takes Transgender Identity Public; Mike Penner of the L.A. Times Wrote a Column to Explain Some Changes, Including His New Name: Christine," ABC News, April 27, 2007. Also available here.
- Yahoo story about Penner
- ESPN article
- Trans sports journalist raises visibility
- John Woolard and Jay Christensen, Interview with Christine Daniels Sports Overnight America, May 4, 2007.