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Veteran Times sportswriter Mike Penner dead

Penner Mike Penner, the veteran Los Angeles Times sportswriter who made international headlines in 2007 when he announced he was transsexual and began working under the byline "Christine Daniels," has died.

Colleagues said today that Penner was found dead at his Los Angeles home and that suicide was the suspected cause of death. He was 52.

"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."

Penner garnered much support and some criticism when he announced he was a "transsexual sportswriter."

"During my 23 years with The Times' sports department, I have held a wide variety of roles and titles. Tennis writer. Angels beat reporter. Olympics writer. Essayist. Sports media critic. NFL columnist. Recent keeper of the Morning Briefing flame. Today I leave for a few weeks' vacation, and when I return, I will come back in yet another incarnation. As Christine," he wrote. "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 ended up blogging about his transition and later wrote a Times sports blog. In 2008, he began using the "Mike Penner" byline again.

Read the full Times' obituary here. A colleague shares some memories of Penner here and invites readers' thoughts.

The Mike Penner story:

-- Shelby Grad

Comments () | Archives (112)

Sorry to hear of his death. As a public figure, being transsexual had to be even more difficult than had he not, and required great courage and soul-searching. Unfortunate that he received criticism for his decision. May he rest in peace.

RIP and You will never be forgotten:(

This "man" is a trans gender person. "He" is a she and it's shameful that the newspaper she gave her career to prints this article without referring to her as the female she was.

Sad story. I felt for the struggle inside of Mike and followed his journey with compassion. Clearly his struggles within were a tormenting force, I will miss his journalistic gift.

Rick--Mr. Penner had returned to the paper, and requested that his Christine Daniels by-lines be changed. He didn't have gender-reassignment surgery.

Sounds like a very brave person; bigger balls than the men he was writing about.

Rick (10:26 am), as I understand it, Penner reverted back to a male identity sometime after the "switch". Regardless, dressing like a woman, or even going so far as to have your genitals altered and getting hormones does not make a man a woman, despite what certain activist groups wants us all to pretend.

My sympathies to Penner's loved ones and coworkers. This is a very sad situation, and it paid me to read that he'd dead. All I know of Penner is what I've read in the paper, so I can only guess when I say perhaps this transgenderism on his part was a cry for help from someone with a problem or two. Perhaps he thought he'd find happiness as a "woman" that was eluding him. It is a shame that we have politicized this issue so that his coworkers couldn't urge him to get some help, the way they would someone who displayed other kinds of destructive or disturbed behavior. Instead, due to politics, his coworkers had to pretend to go along with and reinforce his self-destruction.

the criticism of the times for refering to she as a he or vice versa is ridiculous. the guy offed himself. he was confused and uncertain in his sexuality and identity. he never fully went the distance and was a she in name only. as long as you have the plumbing and attachments, you're a dude.
the story is sad and torturous and i wish him peace in heaven. but for goodness sake, enough with the political correctness and the use of a man's passing to score some pathetic political point, and yes, i mean political.

I'm very sorry to hear of her passing.

I have transgender family members and know how hard it is for them to "fit" in a society who views them as abnormal. This leads many of them to choose to end their lives.

May she rest in peace. My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to her family.

Mike/Christine/Mike was an excellent writer that died too soon.RIP.
If it's not hurting anybody else, why don't we let people be what they want to be?
M/C/M Penner/Daniels: LA has lost a great son/daughter and you will be missed.

Rest in peace Christine. I'm so sorry that the pain was too much for you.

Awful headline writing. Doesnt this guy/gal deserve a little more thought in coming up with his headline epitaph?

I'm not into sports but I knew of Mike Penner /Christine Daniels.
Grace (10:42 AM) understands. The use of "he" or "she" can be confusing.
Christine Daniels is the person Mike Penner WANTED to be.
I think those wishes need to be respected.

I'll remember Mike for his humor and his heart. He was a great journalist and a wonderful, witty writer whose one liners were laugh-out-loud funny. This is a staggering loss for his family, friends and colleagues.

Bill Glauber

What a tragedy. RIP.

Mike? Christine? Whomever. Another quality, conflicted human being is loss. R.I.P. dear, R.I.P.

Absolutely amazing how some people can never let go of their political crap. There's a tragic death, certainly a grieving family out there somewhere, and some wing-nuts can't do anything except try to push their political agenda. Give it a rest for one day.

Rest in peace, Mike. May you find the peace you couldn't seem to find here.

The sports world lost a great writer. It never matters to me if the byline said Mike Penner or Christine Daniels, I just enjoyed the writing. I am truly sorry your life came to this. Rest in peace and thank you for enhancing my life.

"Christine Daniels is the person Mike Penner WANTED to be.
I think those wishes need to be respected."

Sorry, but you're wrong. He asked over a year ago to have all record of "Christine" erased from those bylines and returned to an identity of Mike Penner. THAT was what the Times was and is respecting here.

Please, clearly he had problems too great to bear. Don't make him a poster boy for a political agenda.

He was a great writer imho and he's killed himself. It's a tragedy due to the loss of a human being, like me(a woman), like you, whichever gender. Let's leave it at "Mike" if that's what HE wanted regardless if it serves an agenda for anyone else.

Great sportswriter. He will be missed.

The tragedy is not that Christine took her own life; it is that she thought she had to in order to feel free.
My heart feels truly sad that she and those who really loved her had/have to live in a society that condemns that which it does not understand.
Lee Beebe

I was deeply saddened to read of this news this morning. Christine/Mike was a visible role model who did what she thought was necessary for her own well being. The news of Daniel's transition to female came at a time I was beginning my own, and I followed her story religiously. When I heard the news of Daniel's decision to "detransition," I completely understood why she needed to do so and respected her decision. The Standards of Care point to a period of time called the "Real-Life Experience," and it is during this time some realize for whatever reason, i.e. finances, pressures from public, etc, they are unable or choose to continue through the process. It has been during this same time that I personally realized that transition is about living a more authentic life for me, and my emotional health and well being has changed for the better, as is the case for most of my trans brothers and sisters.

My prayers and thoughts go out to the family and friends of Mike Penner/Christine Daniels. I hope people can respect and allow people to mourn the tragedy and loss of a terrific writer and person instead of politicizing this for their own personal agenda. I'll miss you, Christine.

I've enjoyed his articles at The Times. RIP Mike Penner.

It's always saddening to hear about the death of another human being and the person who, if it is true, took suicide as a way out is even more saddening. At least we know the body no longer suffers. You must have suffered a great deal of pain and Whatever the reasons might have been, may your soul rest in peace. Adieu to you.

Heart felt sympathy to the family of the deceased.

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