The L.A. Times posts this piece today about Christine Daniels, the late sportswriter at the paper whose coming-out as trans briefly energized the community, and whose de-transition back to Mike Penner served as an object lesson in the risks of public exposure for trans people.
Public Triumph/Private Torment
By Christopher Goffard
March 27, 2010
In late April 2007, Mike Penner published an article unlike any of the thousands he had written for the Los Angeles Times. It was brief, just 823 words, and placed without fanfare on the second page of the Sports section that had been his home for 23 years.
Under the headline “Old Mike, new Christine,” Penner explained that he would soon assume a female identity and byline, a decision that followed “a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy.”
It was “heartache and unbearable discomfort” to remain a man, he explained. Being a woman promised “joy and fulfillment.” The article ended on a hopeful note: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.”
Gone was quiet, circumspect Mike Penner, replaced by ebullient, outgoing — and instantly famous — Christine Daniels. Celebrity meant a megaphone, and Daniels vowed to use it as an advocate. She told her story at transsexual conferences across the country, becoming a symbol of courage to a transgender community inspired by the most visible coming-out in decades.
A year after the essay, the Daniels byline vanished from the newspaper, and within months Penner was back at work, living as a man and writing under his male name. Once so voluble about the reasons for becoming Christine, Penner was silent about the reasons for abandoning the identity.
This time, there was no essay, no explanation. But friends saw a person in torment. Last November, in the parking garage of the apartment complex where he lived alone, Penner killed himself. He was 52.
The duality that defined the sportswriter’s life divided the grieving…(to read the full article, click here.)