American athleticism’s growing increasingly queer. Former B-Baller John Amaechi cracked open the sportsman’s closet when he came out a few months ago, now Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Penner’s filling it up with dresses. The jocko-journo used yesterday’s column to announce his plans to become a woman:
Today I leave for a few weeks’ vacation, and when I return, I will come back in yet another incarnation.
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. I realize many readers and colleagues and friends will be shocked to read them.
That’s OK. I understand that I am not the only one in transition as I move from Mike to Christine. Everyone who knows me and my work will be transitioning as well. That will take time. And that’s all right. To borrow a piece of well-worn sports parlance, we will take it one day at a time.
That’s the best way to broach the subject, particularly in such a testosterone heavy arena. The transition from man to woman (or woman to man) doesn’t occur over night.
As Penner notes, he’s had to deal with this decision for decades and will continue to struggle with what he calls “a complicated and widely misunderstood medical condition”. He’s quick to point out transsexualism’s entirely natural – a bit out of the ordinary, but not abnormal. He goes on to explain the ins-and-outs (or, perhaps, outs-and-ins) of the transition process, giving the layman a fair overview of the process. Penner’s emotional column also puts a human face on the process of gender reassignment.
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.
Penner may not be a sport’s star, but he’s got the makings of a queer hero.