October 23, 2008 / 8:04 PM / 10 years ago

L.A. sports writer changes mind, won't become a woman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - A Los Angeles Times sports writer who 18 months ago made headlines by announcing that he was becoming a woman has apparently changed his mind and gone back to the newspaper as a man.

Mike Penner, who became “Christine Daniels” as he transitioned to womanhood, has quietly returned to work at the Times and will resume writing under his old byline, the Web site L.A. Observed reported.

“We’re looking forward to Mike’s byline appearing in our pages and on our web site with increased frequency,” Times spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan told Reuters. “He is a valued member of the Times sports team and has been a popular contributor to our coverage for over 20 years.”

Sullivan declined to comment further and Penner could not be reached for comment.

Penner’s blog chronicling his transformation, called “Woman in Progress” and written under the byline Christine Daniels, has been removed from the paper’s web site.

Penner was a 23-year veteran of the Times sports staff when he stunned readers with an April 26, 2007 column headlined “Old Mike, New Christine” that announced he was a transsexual.

“It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type these words,” he wrote in the column, which became one of the most-read items on the paper’s web site.

“How do you go about sharing your most important truth, one you spent a lifetime trying to keep deeply buried, to a world that has grown familiar and comfortable with your facade?” wrote Penner, who was married at the time to another sportswriter at the paper.

The Times ran an interview with Penner the following day in which the writer, described as wearing “a green flowered blouse ... light makeup, muted lipstick” said he was relieved to finally shed his male persona.

Penner said in the interview that for several months he had been living as a woman and taking hormones. He declined to say if he was planning sex reassignment surgery.

The column was widely reprinted on the Internet and discussed on sports talk-radio programs.

According to the story, the Times turned down multiple TV interview requests on Penner’s behalf from ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ESPN, the BBC and CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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