Transsexual sportswriter Mike Penner dies

Christine Daniels in 2007.

Christine Daniels in 2007.

Sportswriter Mike Penner of the Los Angeles Times has died at 52. His body was found at his home and suicide was the suspected cause of death, the paper reported.

Penner, a very gifted writer, made headlines in 2007 when he announced he was transsexual and changed his name to Christine Daniels. In 2008, he transitioned back and became Mike Penner again. I last saw Mike shortly after he had transitioned back to a male. It was a short and awkward meeting as he told me he was struggling and didn't want to talk.

In August 2007, Christine Daniels was honored by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Assn. at its convention in San Diego for telling her story publicly.

"I am a transsexual sports writer," Penner wrote in his first column discussing his transition. "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."

He became somewhat of a celebrity in the LGBT community and was sought after as a speaker. At our last meeting, I sensed he was embarassed that he created a stir, only to switch back. I never judged Mike and only wanted him to find a happiness that seemed to elude him. He was a warm and gentle human being and I am saddened by his death. May he rest in peace.

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