Requiem for a Transsexual Sportswriter

A little over a year after deciding not to go through with a sex change, LA Times sports columnist Mike Penner killed himself. Jacob Bernstein on the pain of his final days.

  1. The last few years have not been kind to the reporters of the Los Angeles Times. The top of the masthead has been occupied by four people in the last five years. A newsroom of more than 1,200 people in 2001 now numbers around 600 and further layoffs are ongoing.

    Where it came to the institution itself, a rare point of pride among the troops was the company’s handling of sportswriter Mike Penner. In the spring of 2007, just as the Times (and its parent corporation, Tribune Co.) was being sold to real-estate mogul Sam Zell, the veteran columnist announced in an article that he was undergoing hormone therapy and would soon be changing his name to Christine Daniels.

    “No amount of surgery is going to turn you into Jennifer Aniston,” says Christina Kahrl, managing editor from Baseball Prospectus who is also transsexual.

    The news was shocking to the people who knew Penner and his then-wife Lisa Dillman (who also worked for the paper). But the writer was much beloved throughout the building...

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