Transsexual L.A. Times sportswriter found dead

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles Times sportswriter who made headlines by announcing he was becoming a woman, then returned to work as a man, has been found dead in a suspected suicide, the paper reported on Saturday.

Mike Penner, a 25-year veteran of the Times sports staff, was found dead at his Los Angeles home at age 52. The paper said suicide was the suspected cause of death.

“He was one of the most talented writers I’ve ever worked with,” Times Sports Editor Mike James told the paper in a blog on its website. “He was a gentle man, a kind man. It’s just a tragedy.”

Penner stunned colleagues and readers in April 2007 with a column announcing that he was a transsexual and would become a woman.

“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?” Penner wrote.

His column became one of the most-read articles on the paper’s website and was widely reprinted on the Internet and discussed on sports talk-radio programs.

Under a new byline, Christine Daniels, the writer chronicled the transformation on a blog titled “Woman in Progress.” But by October 2008 Penner had quietly gone back to work as a man.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Xavier Briand