Veteran ESPN reporter Mechelle Voepel has come out as transgender, switching her female identity for a male identity.
In a Twitter announcement on Tuesday, Voepel, who started covering women’s basketball for ESPN in 1996 before moving on to volleyball, said she will now go by the name Mike.
“In sports media, we’re lucky to tell stories of others’ journeys. We have our own, too. Part of mine is being transgender, and I’m transitioning to male,” Voepel tweeted. “Byline now M.A. Voepel, pronouns he/him. Please feel free to call me Voepel, MV, Michael, Mike; I’m good with them all.”
“I have the great honor of receiving Gowdy Award next month from Naismith Hall of Fame, and wanted to do that as authentic self, hence this announcement now,” added Voepel. “Fear can keep us paralyzed for decades, especially when we think we will lose all that is dear to us, including career…”
Voepel went on to say that happiness is well worth the pursuit as she expressed thanks to her company and co-workers for their support.
“At some point, you realize you need to have faith that your happiness/well-being is worth pursuing, and also have faith in other people’s kindness and grace. Grateful for a company that supports all of its employees, for terrific family and friends, and for societal progress,” Voepel said.
“I may look and sound a little different. Glad to be who I’ve always been inside,” she added. “Dedication to covering women’s sports, a lifelong joy as well as job, and admiration for all involved – players, coaches, execs, fans, referees, colleagues – that stays exactly the same. Thanks!”
ESPN employees poured out their support for Voepel.
“Could not be more proud or happier for my dear friend,” tweeted veteran sportswriter Joe Posnanski.
“You are LOVED M.A.,” tweeted sideline reporter Holly Rowe.
Voepel has not publicly voiced her opinions on biological males participating in women’s sports.