On April 26, Mike Penner wrote what he thought would be the toughest
article of his career. "I am a transsexual sportswriter. 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 those words." The piece ran in the Sports
section, next to his regular column.
Responses to the revelation came in three distinct flavors: kudos from
sports fans, effusive thanks from other transsexuals and rants from
bible-thumpers. Readers' initial shock, however, subsided almost
Michael Daniel Penner returned to work on May 23 as Christine
Michelle Daniels. So far, it appears to be smooth sailing. But Daniels' very
public transition has put a spotlight on a culture that is slow to acknowledge,
let alone attempt to rehabilitate its ingrained intolerance and bigotry.
In 2003, Chris Kahrl, sportswriter and founding columnist of the annual
Baseball Prospectus, the gold standard for baseball analysis, became Christina.
In 1972, Richard Raskind reached the final of the men's national
35-and-over tennis championships. Three years later, he underwent
sex-reassignment surgery, becoming Renée Richards.