Award-Winning ESPN Journalist M.A. Voepel Comes out as Transgender: 'Who I've Always Been Inside'

·3 min read
A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.
A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California.

Mike Windle/Getty

M.A. Voepel is becoming his authentic self.

Longtime ESPN reporter M.A. Voepel, formerly known as Mechelle Voepel, has come out as transgender. Voepel, 48, shared his announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

"In sports media, we're lucky to tell stories of others' journeys. We have our own, too," Voepel wrote, "Part of mine is being transgender, and I'm transitioning to male."

The journalist continued by sharing his new name and pronouns: "Byline now M.A. Voepel, pronouns he/him. Please feel free to call me Voepel, MV, Michael, Mike; I'm good with them all."

Voepel then went on to explain what motivated him to make the change: receiving this year's Naismith Hall of Fame's Curt Gowdy Media Award. "I have the great honor of receiving Gowdy Award next month from Naismith Hall of Fame, and wanted to do that as [my] authentic self, hence this announcement now," he explained. The winners will be awarded at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend on September 9 and 10, according to the NBA.

"Fear can keep us paralyzed for decades, especially when we think we will lose all that is dear to us, including career..." Voepel wrote.

He continued: "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."

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Voepel has worked for ESPN since 1996 and, according to the outlet, "is the foremost authority on women's basketball in both the collegiate and professional ranks."

The journalist added that he's excited for what's to come.

"I may look and sound a little different," he said, "Glad to be who I've always been inside."

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He ended the series of tweets saying, "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!"

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Sportswriter Joe Posnanski told Voepel, "Could not be more proud or happier for my dear friend."

Fellow ESPN reporters Holly Rowe and Alexa Philippou also reacted to the news. "You are LOVED M.A." Rowe tweeted. Philippou added, "Proud to be teammates with you, Voepel!"

ESPN's Kevin Pelton replied to Philippou's message tweeting, "Echoing this, and glad that after compassionately helping so many athletes tell the stories of their authentic selves, you now feel supported to do so yourself ahead of this well-earned moment."

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In February, when Voepel was announced as one of the Gowdy Award recipients, he said he was honored to be recognized.

"I am really appreciative of the honor because it has been such a big part of my life to help chronicle the growth of women's basketball," Voepel told ESPN at the time. "I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to witness that, and work with others who also care about it so much."