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Trans trailblazing journalist Christina Kahrl leaving ESPN for major new role

Kahrl, who in 2002 became the nation’s first out transgender sports writer, announced she will be heading up sports coverage at a major metropolitan newspaper.

Trans Athletes: The New Frontier of Sports - 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival
Christina Kahrl, MLB writer and editor for espn.com speaks onstage at ‘Trans Athletes: The New Frontier of Sports’ during the 2016 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 12, 2016 in Austin, Texas.
Photo by Robert A Tobiansky/Getty Images for SXSW

You may not know her name, but sportswriter Christina Kahrl just scored the journalism equivalent of a grand slam.

The longtime ESPN senior editor and co-founder of both the Baseball Prospectus think tank and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced on Twitter Wednesday she will be the next sports editor of the legendary San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

No stranger to blazing trails, we believe Kahrl will become the first out transgender editor of a major, metropolitan mainstream media outlet in the U.S. when she takes the reins of sports coverage of the largest newspaper in Northern California. The Chronicle is the state’s second major newspaper after the Los Angeles Times.

But being located as it is in the city by the Bay, the Chronicle of course boasts the better locale. And now it also has the best out trans sportswriter in the business.

In a message to Outsports, Kahrl says she recognizes the importance of her platform. “I take my responsibilities, before at ESPN and in future with the Chronicle, extremely seriously, as a privilege and as a challenge,” she said.

When Kahrl came out as transgender in 2002, she was the nation’s first openly trans sportswriter, according to the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame, which inducted her in 2014. She also became one of the first four Internet-based writers accepted into the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, as well as its first out trans member, in 2008.

In addition to her first love (baseball), Kahrl is also the editor of the Football Encyclopedia and states in her Twitter bio that she “coined ‘Three True Outcomes’ & ‘wishcasting’ in my clever youth.”

Kahrl and her wife, Charley, only recently relocated to Long Beach, Calif. as part of her job with ESPN, which has taken her from her hometown of Chicago to the ESPN mothership in Bristol, Conn. and back again.

She told her Twitter followers this opportunity is a dream come true.

Kahrl says she hopes her hiring at the Chronicle leads to more trans voices working in journalism — especially during this pivotal time.

“The timing also could not be more relevant — at a time when the consequences of the absence of trans voices in mainstream media stories reflects the failure of newsrooms to hire trans journalists, I would hope folks see this and remember we’re right here in this industry, and that they can profit from the examples set by ESPN & the Chronicle, in service to their duty to their audiences to deliver better, more informative stories,” she said. “We are your colleagues and peers — bring us into the conversation.”

Kahrl is a 1990 graduate of the University of Chicago. In 2015, Kahrl wrote the following for her alma mater about her transition:

Like any trans person coming out, I understood that I was handing everyone in my life a fait accompli, one that might cost me every relationship I valued. I told my family, friends, and my colleagues at Baseball Prospectus the same thing: I didn’t know how it would turn out, and I didn’t have all of the answers. This would be my first and only time down this road as well. But if they could give me time to work it out, I would do the same with them.

In my family, the instant acceptance of my grandmother, our alpha-female matriarch, helped set the tone. She brought Mom around soon after our first re-meeting by telling her, “You know, she looks a lot like you.” But perhaps nothing can better help friends than the things you have in common despite this newly discovered difference—in this case, America’s perfect social lubricant, sports. I wasn’t getting a personality transplant, after all. The person my friends and family had always known—a Kahrl capable of boring you on any number of subjects, but especially baseball—was the person they would still recognize.

Not only recognize, but accept. And through an acceptance forged in our common ground, they made much more than that possible.

Congratulations, Christina, from all of us at Outsports!