Sunday, November 29, 2009

LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner dies

It is with great sadness that I read about the death of LA Times sports writer Mike Penner who dies Friday at the age of 52. It is suspected Penner took his own life.
Penner had been a sport writer since the 80s, covering multiple sports and events, but gained national notoriety when he came out as transsexual in the spring of 2007. He changed his name to Christine Daniels and continued to cover sports for the Times as well as keep a blog about his transition. The very public transition was quite brave. But some time in late 2008 Penner went back to writing as Mike and rumors abounded that he was experiencing transition regret, though he never confirmed.
If it was indeed a suicide, it would seem that Penner never found a comfortable place along the gender spectrum and perhaps that is because too often it seems there is no continuum, but rather a binary. And thus the pressure to pick one or another and conform is huge, especially for those who have not had the privilege of being comfortably cisgendered all their lives.
It is not a time to preach about the evils of hegemonic gender and the gender binary, I realize. Mike Penner/Christine Daniels made a huge sacrifice by going public during transition. I hope that is what people remember.

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