Penner/Daniels made headlines when in April of 2007 he announced that he was transitioning his gender to female. S/he wrote about the transition process in an LA Times blog called “Woman In Progress” under his/her new name Christine Daniels. This frank and open approach to the transitioning process made Penner/Daniels something of a hero in the transgender community.
But the open approach didn’t last. Details are sketchy, but what is clear is that in October of 2008, Penner/Daniels began writing under the name Mike Penner again. Everything under the Christine Daniels byline was removed from the LAT website.
All of this happened without explanation, fueling speculation. USA Today called Penner/Daniels’ apparent return to life as a man a case of “transgender regret.” How much truth there was to that assessment is unclear, as Penner/Daniels never again spoke to the press about his/her gender identity.
What is clear is that the life of a transgender in our society is a difficult one. Penner/Daniels died exactly one week after the Transgender Day of Remembrance, an international event held to memorialize those killed because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.
He was not only a fine sportswriter, he was a friendly voice on the phone and a genuinely good person. Those of us who worked with him in The Times sports department knew every story he turned in had the potential to be the most entertaining read of the day.