Sunday, November 29, 2009


I've been kicking around a column for the last few days. It's another of those where I go through draft after draft, and end up discarding them all. Then something happens out in the world that casts my own thoughts on to the back burner.

Mike Penner was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times. He made headlines in 2007 when he came out as transgendered. He was taking a vacation, and when he returned, it would be as Christine Daniels. Christine continued to write for the Times, and she wrote a blog for the paper wherein she recounted her ongoing transformation. In November of last year, she wrote that she was stopping her transition, and she went back to using the name Mike Penner. There was a story in USA Today about this, and what they called "reverse transitioning".

I even did a post about it. It was one of the first relevant news items I remember posting. I remember concluding that I did not want to reverse my changes. I have hardly begun to transition in any meaningful sense. I could not then see any reason to stop, or to go back. "The only way for me is forward," I said.

That is still true, though I have come to recognize some of the obstacles in my way. Just a week ago we were memorializing the victims of hate and violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It seems we forgot to look out for those who fall to their own doubts. Mike Penner was found dead yesterday, apparently of suicide. I lost track of him after the USA Today story. I am subject to the same sort of internet-derived short attention span as everyone else. I suppose it didn't help that I'm not much of a sports fan.

This isn't the time to wallow in uncertainty. I've got to go on. More than that, I need to support my friends. Every time I hear about a suicide, I wonder who that person didn't talk to. Who didn't offer them a friendly ear, a supporting shoulder? If there's anyone out there who feels like this, please talk to me.


  1. For whatever reason it seems as though Mike/Christine/Mike decided ze needed to go back into the closet. The problem would be that the closet no longer had a door that could be closed behind zir.

    As Mike never commented on it publicly after de-transitioning we will probably never know the reason why ze went back to being Mike, nor the reason for the suicide.

    I think it is tragic that, as bad as it is for people to be murdered for their transness is, too often we do not stop to consider the many more who die of their own hand.

  2. Sad news, indeed Jaye...

    Not much one can say. It's not unknown. many die of their own hand in despair at not being able to move forward, or because of the personal or emotional cost of transitioning.

    Each is a dreadful loss, and a needless one.