Mechelle Voepel is a longtime ESPN reporter who recently came out as transgender. He announced his transition from female to male on social media and changed his name to M.A. Voepel. Voepel has been working for ESPN since 1996, covering women’s college and pro basketball for ESPN.com.
“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 Tuesday. “Byline now M.A. Voepel, pronouns he/him. Please feel free to call me Voepel, MV, Michael, Mike; I’m good with them all.
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“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. 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 thank ESPN for showing its support for him. “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,” Voepel continued. Grateful for a company that supports all of its employees, for terrific family and friends, and for societal progress …
“I may look and sound a little different. Glad to be who I’ve always been inside. 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!”
People on social media showed their support for Voepel. “Hi Mike! I learned your name when you wrote that 2017 piece about Sue Bird and ever since you’ve been one of my favorites,” one person wrote. “You seem to have a knack for connecting authentically with people. You deserve to be your authentic self too and I am so grateful to see a piece of you.”
“Unbelievably happy for you, Mike, and so glad you will be honored as such next month at Naismith,” Chantel Jennings of The Athletic wrote.
Voepel started covering basketball games in 1984 when he was a student at the University of Missouri. He graduated in 1987 and then worked at newspapers in Columbia, Missouri; Newport News, Virginia; and Kansas City, Missouri.
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