A top journalist for ABC News no longer considers himself a newsman, but rather, a newswoman.
Don Ennis, who works for the network at its New York City office, is going public with a new female identity of Dawn Ennis.
“Today I begin anew,” Ennis writes on his Facebook page, where a brand-new, “feminine” profile picture is displayed.
“Please understand: This is not a game of dress-up, or make-believe. It is my affirmation of who I now am and what I must do to be happy, in response to a soul-crushing secret that my wife and I have been dealing with for more than seven years, mostly in secret.”
The New York Post reported Ennis walked into his Manhattan office last Friday in a “little black dress” and a brunette bobbed wig to tell colleagues he wants to be known as Dawn.
Ennis, 49, of Danbury, Conn., is a father of three children, and he says he’s splitting from his wife of 17 years in order to become a woman.
Ennis claims he suffers from an “unusual hormonal imbalance,” and blames his mother, who allegedly fed him female hormones as a child to prolong a commercial acting career. He says while those hormones made the little boy look and sound young, he eventually developed female-style breasts.
The balding editor says doctors can’t explain or remedy the condition, and he has been undergoing hormone-replacement therapy to maintain “mysteriously a more female than male body.”
“I have a rare medical condition – nothing deadly or infectious – but it has resulted in an unusual hormonal imbalance, ” Ennis said. “One so profound that I don’t resemble the man you first met 10 years ago.”
Though he hasn’t had a surgical sex change, Ennis says his marriage to his wife, Wendy, is “wrecked,” and he moved out of their family home on Saturday, the day after informing his ABC colleagues.
“Despite the heartbreak, [Wendy] has encouraged me to start this new life that we both believe better fits who I now am,” Ennis says.
“Trust me, this is NOT the midlife crisis I was counting on – I’d much prefer to have bought a sports car. Even an affair, I think, would have been something we might have recovered from.”
Ennis is a 10-year veteran at ABC News, and admits the confession may be a bombshell.
“I’m sure if you had to pick someone we know in common who might be transitioning from male to female, I’m guessing I would not even crack the top ten,” he added.
To celebrate the change, Ennis brought a cake and glitter to work on Friday, and co-workers reportedly left flowers on his desk, with ABC News President Ben Sherwood writing a note of support.
Even before this week’s announcement, Ennis showed clues about his sexual identity on Facebook.
For instance, on Oct. 19, 2012, Ennis posted a photo of himself at ABC in a purple shirt, declaring, “I’m wearing purple to take a stand against bullying … And because I make this look good!”
The remark was met with some sarcasm by Clayton Vandiver, who responded, “In a newsroom taking a stand against bullying? Sorry, I just choked back down a little breakfast there.”
Reaction to the switch is already being posted online, including:
- “Gotta say, shocked! But if you’re happy, so am I.” (Peter Bernard)
- “He still looks like himself, only with a wig!” (Peter Sterling)
- “I gotta say … the AFTER picture looks way better. (Rocco)
Ennis is now shopping around for a book deal.
“I’m overwhelmed by the strong support I’ve received from my coworkers, and I’m looking forward to telling my story when I’m ready,” Ennis said.
In March, another network bombshell was dropped when two reporters for NBC News proclaimed they were lesbian lovers, and one was pregnant with a child.
Jenna Wolfe, a newscaster on the weekend “Today” show, made the initial announcement,
“My girlfriend, Stephanie Gosk, and I are expecting a baby girl the end of August,” Wolfe, 39, wrote in the debut post for her new pregnancy blog.
“We felt like we wanted to share our adventures with a wide-eyed, little person,” she wrote. “The more we talked about it, the better the idea seemed.”
Gosk, 40, called the announcement “a spectacular moment for us.”
“The beauty is that we live in a time where there’s no need for secrecy,” she told People. “For a long time I had feared I would never have a child.”
Other TV news reporters who have gone public with their homosexuality include Anderson Cooper of CNN, Sam Champion of ABC and CNN’s Don Lemon.
When Cooper came out of the closet last July, he stated: “I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly asked ‘the gay question,’ which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.
“Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.
“I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.”