Mike Penner, a longtime fixture in the Los Angeles TImes sports department became the subject of considerable scrutiny some 30 months ago when he publicly announced his intention to undergo gender reassignment and continue writing under the name Christine Daniels. With minor fanfare, Penner returned to working for the Times in October, 2008 under his male name, causing at least one branch of the blogosphere to suggest the whole male-to-female thing was an elaborate career move.

Earlier today, LA Now’s Shelby Grad reported the following ;

Colleagues said today that Penner was found dead at his Los Angeles home and that suicide was the suspected cause of death. He was 52.

“He was one of the most talented writers I’ve ever worked with,” said Times Sports Editor Mike James, adding that Penner covered numerous beats including the National Football League and sports media during his more than two-decade-long career at the paper.

“He was a gentle man, a kind man,” James said. “It’s just a tragedy.”