Mike Penner, Transsexual Sportwriter, Dead of Apparent Suicide

Mike Penner, the transsexual sportswriter briefly known as "Christine Daniels" is dead.

Mike Penner, the transsexual sportswriter briefly known as “Christine Daniels” is dead, the Los Angeles Times reports.

mike-penner-christine-danielsMike 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.

[…]

Penner ended up blogging about his transition and later wrote a Times sports blog. In 2008, he began using the “Mike Penner” byline again.

A more detailed obit here.

In an April 2007 post, “LA Times Sportswriter Mike Penner Becoming Christine,” I wrote about my former colleague, Chris Kahrl, another sportswriter who successfully made the transition and was  “warmed by the utter nonreaction she’s gotten from baseball and baseball-journalism folks since converting to womanhood.”  My guess is that Penner’s issues were personal.

Salon‘s Autumn Sandeen, a friend and colleague,  shares this post she wrote in February:

I wrote about Mike/Christine in a blog on February 26. I wrote in part, “Mike was born as a woman he came to know as Christine, but was not able to reconcile the difference between the outward and the inward. So Mike hid Christine until April 2007, when she could remain locked away in him no more. For eighteen months Christine was able to manifest and the soul that is Mike/Christine danced for joy.

“Then, for reasons only she knows, Christine went back to that place where she had lived all those years before. Mike/Christine is not some third gender. I think Mike needs to be able to be whomever he needs to be on the gender continuum each day. Quite simply, I think Mike is not stuck in the rigid duality of our western society. There are many transgender and cisgender people that are very stuck in that duality.”

Having a gender identity different from one’s outward appearance has to be difficult.   But the male/female gender divide isn’t a social construct, much less a Western one.  Indeed, most of the world’s cultures are far, far less understanding of these issues than ours.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Obituaries, Sports, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Having a gender identity different from one’s outward appearance has to be difficult. But the male/female gender divide isn’t a social construct, much less a Western one.

    Sentence #1 appears to contradict sentence # 2. Gender identity is ENTIRELY a social construct–otherwise you couldn’t have people like these trannies trying to appropriate identities deemed “appropriate.”

    Furthermore, the fact that social expectations of gender roles fluctuate is indicative of gender’s dynamism. If gender was not a social construct, you would have similar social gender expectations throughout the world and throughout history.

    Just look at different roles of broads in different societies–chicks can’t even drive in places like Saudi, whereas they are fully granted equal rights in the West.

    Temporally, broads in the West couldn’t work in certain jobs a generation ago and now they can.

    So, I’m not sure what you mean by the contention that gender ain’t no social construction.

  2. JVB says:

    So, unlike suicides in any other arena of misunderstood individuals…how many people are to blame for this one? More to the point, how long before the gay community issues its indictment against all straight people…the Constitution…the laws…the hate…the bullying…it’s all the fault of every heterosexual alive. We should be ashamed. If only gays could freely marry…freely insult and threaten without fear of retaliation…life for the gay communities would be peachy keen. It’s coming. They aren’t unhappy by nature…they are unhappy because of ‘breeders’.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Furthermore, the fact that social expectations of gender roles fluctuate is indicative of gender’s dynamism. If gender was not a social construct, you would have similar social gender expectations throughout the world and throughout history.

    Gender roles and the way men and women are supposed to act are largely social constructs, although sometimes at least initially based on legitimate biological differences. But the fact that there are males and females has been recognized in every culture and civilization around the world since the dawn of mankind.

  4. An Interested Party says:

    So, unlike suicides in any other arena of misunderstood individuals…how many people are to blame for this one? More to the point, how long before the gay community issues its indictment against all straight people…the Constitution…the laws…the hate…the bullying…it’s all the fault of every heterosexual alive. We should be ashamed. If only gays could freely marry…freely insult and threaten without fear of retaliation…life for the gay communities would be peachy keen. It’s coming. They aren’t unhappy by nature…they are unhappy because of ‘breeders’.

    Who is making these arguments, other than you?