Remembering Mike Penner
By Noah Michelson
Photo: Danielle St. Laurent
On Saturday, Los Angeles Times sports writer Mike Penner, 52, was found dead in his home, the victim of an apparent suicide. Penner, a popular Times writer since 1983, gained national attention, and scored a place as an honoree in our 2007 Out 100, when he came out as transgendered, began transitioning, and started to use the name Christine Daniels both personally and professionally in 2007. The move sent shock waves through the predominantly male-dominated-industry but undaunted, Daniels continued to cover sports for The Times and also launched a new blog for the paper entitled Women in Progress, which took a lighthearted look at trans issues.
In 2008 Daniels detransitioned back to Penner and some suspect that his suicide maybe have been a result of ongoing stress and anxiety surrounding his gender identity. Regardless, Penner was a brilliant writer and his courageous coming out brought trans issues into the homes of millions of people who otherwise might never have come face to page with a trans person.
Here is what we wrote about Daniels in the 2007 Out 100 issue (the above photo is from the same issue):
On April 26, 23-year veteran sportswriter Mike Penner wrote his final piece as a Los Angeles Times columnist, telling the world that he'd be going away, then returning to work -- as Christine. Though the shy Daniels admits to fearing the reaction to her transition, the response -- even from the frequently homophobic sports world -- has been overwhelmingly positive and her "career-long writer's block" has vanished.
We'll miss you, Mike.
Previously > Chatter: Meredith Baxter