Transsexual journalist Mike Penner is dead at the age of 52, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Officials believe Penner took his own life. He was pronounced dead Friday evening at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City.

Penner, who spent 25 years reporting on sports at the Los Angeles Times, created a stir in 2007 when he announced he would transition to Christine Daniels. A year later, however, he returned to using the Mike Penner byline.

“Mike was a first-rate journalist, a valued member of our staff for 25 years, and we will miss him,” Russ Stanton, the paper's editor said. “He respected our readers a great deal, enough to share with them his very personal journey. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Penner announced he was a transsexual sportswriter in an April 2007 essay published by the Times.

“I am a transsexual sports writer,” he wrote. “It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-searching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words.”

Writing about his journey thrust Penner into the national spotlight, and made him an LGBT celebrity.

“At our last meeting, I sensed he was embarrassed that he created a stir, only to switch back,” said Jim Buzinski in an entry at the gay sports blog Outsports. “I never judged Mike and only wanted him to find a happiness that seemed to elude him. He was a warm and gentle human being and I am saddened by his death. May he rest in peace.”