For some, shadow of regret cast over gender switch

USA Today 26 February 2009
The day Mike Penner left the Los Angeles Times made the news. The longtime sportswriter wrote the article himself, a personal essay explaining that he was taking some time off and, upon his return, he would be known from then on as Christine Daniels.
Penner’s public acknowledgment in April 2007 that he was transgender and would soon live as a woman shocked the world of sports journalism and turned his new identity, Daniels, into an instant celebrity. Daniels gave speeches, was profiled in Sports Illustrated, collected honors for courage from transgender groups and wrote a blog for the Times titled “Woman In Progress.”
Except that the transition didn’t last. In mid-October 2008, after a lengthy leave of absence, Penner, 51, returned to the sports pages and the Times newsroom as a man.
And just as suddenly, Penner’s story, heralded in its early days as a triumphant example of transgender progress, has instead become a cautionary tale of the lesser-known phenomenon: transgender regret.
Cases such as Penner and Cluse raise questions about the causes of transgenderism. Paul McHugh, director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, is a leading proponent of the notion that the cause is not biological, that transgender people have chosen this path.
He halted the university hospital’s practice of performing gender reassignment surgeries in the late 1970s because, he says, a study indicated that postoperative transsexuals were no happier than they were before the operation. “You can live any way you want, but don’t come to us and ask us to give medical resources to this proposal of yours, because we think it’s a social construct and not a condition of nature,” McHugh says.
“No one has demonstrated any physical mechanism or physical problem that causes this. The burden of proof is on them to prove that.”
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-24-transgender-penner_N.htm