Mike Penner, a 23 year veteran of the Los Angeles Times’ sports department is going on vacation for a few weeks. Upon the journalist’s return, his byline will read “Christine Daniels”.
For more years than I care to count, I was scared to death over the prospect of writing a story such as this one. It was the most frightening of all the towering mountains of fear I somehow had to confront and struggle to scale.
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 faÃ§ade?
To a world whose knowledge of transsexuals usually begins and ends with Jerry Springer’s exploitation circus?
Painfully and reluctantly, I began the coming-out process a few months ago. To my everlasting amazement, friends and colleagues almost universally have been supportive and encouraging, often breaking the tension with good-natured doses of humor.
When I told my boss Randy Harvey, he leaned back in his chair, looked through his office window to scan the newsroom and mused, “Well, no one can ever say we don’t have diversity on this staff.”
When I told Robert, the soccer-loving lad from Wales who cuts my hair, why I wanted to start growing my hair out, he had to take a seat, blink hard a few times and ask, “Does this mean you don’t like football anymore, Mike?”
No, I had to assure him, I still love soccer. I will continue to watch it. I hope to continue to coach it.
My days of playing in men’s over-30 rec leagues, however, could be numbered.
When I told Eric, who has played sweeper behind my plodding stopper for more than a decade, he brightly suggested, “Well, you’re still good for co-ed!”
I broke the news to Tim by beginning, “Are you familiar with the movie ‘Transamerica’?” Tim nodded. “Well, welcome to my life,” I said.
Tim seemed more perplexed than most as I nervously launched into my story.
Finally, he had to explain, “I thought you said ‘Trainspotting.’ I thought you were going to tell me you’re a heroin addict.”