Noted sportswriter Mike Penner died on Friday, November 27, 2009, from officially undisclosed causes, although suicide has been reported in the mainstream press. Penner was 52 years old.
Mike Penner wrote for the Los Angeles Times for 25 years, and was praised generously by those he had worked with. One of sportswritings most versatile scribes, Penner was well known for the breadth of his coverage. Towards the end of his career, he became well-known additionally for announcing his decision to transition to female, adopting the name Christine Daniels. Penner was generally supported by his colleagues in this decision, and blogged about his life experience becoming a woman. Eventually Penner returned to his original name, dropped his blog, and continued writing about sports for the Times. (For that reason I am referring to him as “him” in this obituary, since that is apparently what he himself was doing.)
Unhappiness in one’s gender is a difficult and life-changing condition, and Penner must be saluted for the bravery he showed in dealing with gender and sexuality issues. Such a struggle is all the more difficult for a public figure such as a well-known journalist. We do not yet know the circumstances or reasons for his death, but we can mourn this sad and premature end to his personal journey. Rest in peace, Mr. Penner.
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Bob Hayes is the senior partner at DocRocket, a web content and writing services company. He is a freelance business consultant with particular expertise in software, Internet business development, and operational efficiency. In addition he maintains a personal blog at Bob Hayes Online.