Some time ago, news came out at the Los Angeles Times that sportswriter Mike Penner would be taking a hiatus and returning as Christine Daniels. This was followed by a short transition diary, and then silence for awhile. Now, it has been revealed that he will indeed be returning... as Mike Penner.
Certainly, a person is entitled to change their mind. I don't mean to question that. Penner has to do what is best and right for Penner, and no one can fault him for that. That said, the news can be jarring to some....
Mike Penner, meet Jillian Page. When Jill was preparing to come out at work at a major Canadian newspaper, the news of Christine had provided her with additional optimism, and a little courage. And early reports of her transition have been positive, albeit not without a few bumps in the road.
Jill started an online weblog to continue her coming out as someone who has newly embraced her womanhood and is now discovering what that means. This follows in the wake of "Patent Pending," which chronicled things at her newspaper. Upon reading the news, she wrote: "Christine was a big influence for many transfolks, including me. She inspired many people to be themselves, including me -- and I thank her for that."
While wanting to respect Mike's decision, people are nevertheless puzzled and concerned. Of course, we don't know the whole story and can't presume on it, but I can't help but remember when one of my possible job options to return to work was as a sales representative, who would often be going out to jobsites, sometimes in new neighborhood developments, to meet with contractors who I knew could be homophobic and certainly would know about my transition, after 19 years with the company as the old me. In some respects, that pales to the possibility of palling around in a testosterone-pumped locker room, and the news of Daniels' transition at the time seemed to me to be that of courage beyond the pale.
It's not fair to speculate, and I don't mean to do so -- I only mean to show those few who might get upset at the news that there are certainly many understandable reasons for Penner to change his mind -- the most basic of which could be that transition simply might not have been right for him. In the end, that is what we hope, that this decision is the right decision for Penner, not something borne out of pressure, shame or fear. In the end, Penner has to be who he is, whether that is Mike Penner, Christine Daniels or even somewhere in between. And if he wishes to let the issue disappear, then I think it is our place to now honour that. And if at a later date he needs a confidential ear to listen, there are more than a few in the community willing to be that.
We just hope that he realizes that just because it may not be the right decision for him, that doesn't make it the wrong decision for everybody. As Jill says, "I won't be changing my mind.... Never in my life have I been more sure of what I want, especially now as the HRT is taking hold."