Journalist Mike Penner/Christine Daniels energized the transsexual community when he used his LA Times sports column to announce he was becoming a woman. But the spotlight on his transitioning process may have been too much to endure. Last year he quietly went back to living as a man, and last month tragically took his own life. Christina Kahrl, sports journalist, transsexual and friend to Penner/Daniels, spoke with The Daily Beast about the columnist’s brave choice to transition publicly – and what it might have cost him.
Kahrl strongly advised Penner to be more cautious about coming out so prominently as a transgender person too early in the process. (Kahrl did not talk publicly about being a transsexual until after completing her transition from male to female.) “The transition is difficult enough as is,” she explains. “To make it a public thing in front of millions of people–you could call it crazy or bold or courageous or nuts, and it’s all of those things at once… My advice was not taken.”
Today, Kahrl can understand why the Times is proud of how they handled Penner’s transition (“They made all the appropriate public showings of support and that’s what you hope for from your employer”), but she thinks the initial article–and a blog that followed it, called “Woman in Progress”–were both big mistakes. “It should have been treated as a human-resources matter, not a public-relations opportunity,” she says. “When you put yourself on a stage in front of millions and you’ve been propelled into the role of a celebrity in a community of people that has almost no national celebrities, it’s impossible to go back from it. She or he was permanently ‘Mike Penner-comma-transsexual sportswriter.’ You could not turn the clock back.”
Found via LA Observed
Previously on FBLA:
LA Times Sportswriter Mike Penner/Christine Daniels Dead Of Suspected Suicide