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  1. #1 For some, shadow of regret cast over gender switch 
    For some, shadow of regret cast over gender switch
    Updated 2/26/2009 9:04 AM

    By Steve Friess, special for USA TODAY

    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.

    "It's unfortunate and it's relatively uncommon but certainly not unheard of," says Denise Leclair, executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education, a Waltham, Mass.-based transgender advocacy group. "The simplest way to think about it is being trans is something that never goes away. ... There's just a fairly constant social pressure to just go back. You don't have to be a genius to understand that society doesn't really accept this."

    Mike Penner, a 24-year veteran of the newspaper, did not respond to calls and e-mails for comment and has not written about his decision to resume life as a man. The blog and bylines as Christine Daniels have been removed from the newspaper's website.

    Though there's no data available on how many transgender people abandon their new gender, psychologist Ron Lawrence of the Community Counseling Center in Las Vegas says about 5% of his transgender patients revert. Leclair echoes that estimate.

    (snip)

    Transitioning carries with it the prospect of losing jobs, friends and family, as well as mockery from strangers who find the gender change visibly jarring, Rose and others attest. "You become a very visible minority," Leclair says. "The average male-to-female transsexual is taller, has bigger hands and feet, has more facial hair than most women. There are a lot of physical attributes that are hard to hide in a society that doesn't like you."

    Religion sometimes comes into play. Joseph Cluse of Newport News, Va., lived his life as Joanna for 30 years after having the surgery in the 1970s. Yet Cluse, who was married twice and raised one husband's children, became religious in recent years and decided that God wanted him to resume his life as a man. Cluse, 54, stopped taking hormones and had breast implants removed.

    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."

    Debating the cause

    Such comments are anathema to the transgender advocates, who insist the decades-old study McHugh cites was debunked. Like most transsexuals, Daniels told Sports Illustrated in 2007 that her urges to be female began as a child, and she wrote in the Times that same year: "We are born with this. We fight it as long as we can, and in the end it wins."

    Claire Winter, a transsexual from Seattle who mentored Penner and spoke to him late last year, doubts the sportswriter's reversal will further confuse the general public about transsexualism.

    "I think people are so bloody confused, I don't know if this has a significant effect," Winter says. "But maybe this will help people to understand that this is a very complex, highly difficult situation. This indicates the fundamental problem of trying to shove people into either end of the gender pole. It serves to point out the fact that it isn't as simple as flipping a coin.

    "I would say give (Penner) some time," Winter says. "We have to wait for him to let us know when he figures it out."
    I have read some things that lead me to believe the regret is higher than just 5%. I think this issue is more of a psychological disorder. You wouldn't tell someone who was a pathological liar that it's okay to lie - that's just the way you are, you've been lying since you were a little kid. You'd get them some help.

    USA Today
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  2. #2  
    PORCUS MAXIMUS Rockntractor's Avatar
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    I think most of these people are just nuts! Sorry poor choice of words. Crazy!
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    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    My fellow liberals think I'm terrible for thinking that doctors shouldn't perform sex change surgery.

    I don't have a problem with cross-dressers, though. I think that's the psychologically healthy way to deal with those urges, because it involves an element of self-acceptance and understanding limits. A man who gets changed into a woman will spend the rest of his life getting periodic plastic surgery to maintain a female appearance. A woman who becomes a man will never have a penis that works without pumping it. A man who becomes a woman will never have a clitoris or experience sexual pleasure as a woman does.

    I say this out of compassion for transgendered people. I had a friend at church a few years ago who was a trannie, and this is what he went through. Plastic surgery every couple of years, and he still had an adam's apple and still had a very masculine appearance. He claimed to be happy and had an attractive female (!) partner. Once he got the operation, he was stuck. He can't go back, so he convinces himself he's happy this way.
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    Power CUer FlaGator's Avatar
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    A person can do all the cross-dressing and have any operation that he or she wants but it doesn't change the fact that the chromesomes tell the tale.

    I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
    C. S. Lewis
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  5. #5  
    An Adversary of Linda #'s
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    My fellow liberals think I'm terrible for thinking that doctors shouldn't perform sex change surgery.

    I don't have a problem with cross-dressers, though. I think that's the psychologically healthy way to deal with those urges, because it involves an element of self-acceptance and understanding limits. A man who gets changed into a woman will spend the rest of his life getting periodic plastic surgery to maintain a female appearance. A woman who becomes a man will never have a penis that works without pumping it. A man who becomes a woman will never have a clitoris or experience sexual pleasure as a woman does.

    I say this out of compassion for transgendered people. I had a friend at church a few years ago who was a trannie, and this is what he went through. Plastic surgery every couple of years, and he still had an adam's apple and still had a very masculine appearance. He claimed to be happy and had an attractive female (!) partner. Once he got the operation, he was stuck. He can't go back, so he convinces himself he's happy this way.

    Most of those depressed by surgical sex change live to regret it .Some retain their original plumbing and have a new 'add on' usually to please their partners but when the relationship sours they are stuck with their 'deformity'!

    I've read of the suicide rate among surgically altered people is very high.There seems to be little psychological help available to these poor people.Their wants and psychiatric needs are seldom addressed in public and they're open to ridicule by people like me !

    The root cause of someone who desires to be of the opposite sex is very hard for someone like me to understand.What could possibly cause such a desire.Is the cause buried in their childhood from some abuse by father,mother or some relative molesting them and causing a deep non recoverable psychological wound driving their guilt.

    Guilt is a very powerful driving force to the childhood psyche and must be resolved for healthy mentality to survive .The progressive childhood stages of sexual growth and awareness if desturbed can in some cases lead to severe aberations in the childs mental health.In Painful childhood experiences the mind will sometimes hide the true facts in an attempt to resolve the guilt and pain .

    A young adult to be is racked with doubt of their ability to function as adults and in a normal family enviroment will emulate their parents as templates to grown up life.If a young girl is molested by her own father that will sometimes manifest itself as guilt .How could a loving father do that unless there is something wrong with her and it was her fault and the guilt is hers to resolve.If she were able to escape into the other sex the guilt may be resolved.
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  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by megimoo View Post
    The root cause of someone who desires to be of the opposite sex is very hard for someone like me to understand.What could possibly cause such a desire.Is the cause buried in their childhood from some abuse by father,mother or some relative molesting them and causing a deep non recoverable psychological wound driving their guilt.
    In the case of male-to-female trannies a very interesting concept is being developed that traces the affliction back to heterosexuality gone bad. The idea is that these men really like women. A lot. They not only get sexually aroused by being with a woman, they get sexually aroused by viewing or handling her "female" accessories: clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc. This arousal eventually supplants the original object (the woman) and becomes a fetish for feminine items. Eventually, the man believes that if he becomes the woman, he will achieve a sort of hour-to-hour level of stimulation and fulfillment. The I-always-felt-like-a-girl backstory is just that: a story for the shrinks and the surgeons.

    Sadly, the post-surgical reality usually doesn't live up to the pre-surgical fantasy.

    These men would be better off being treated for sexual displacement.
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  7. #7  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    In the case of male-to-female trannies a very interesting concept is being developed that traces the affliction back to heterosexuality gone bad. The idea is that these men really like women. A lot. They not only get sexually aroused by being with a woman, they get sexually aroused by viewing or handling her "female" accessories: clothing, shoes, cosmetics, etc. This arousal eventually supplants the original object (the woman) and becomes a fetish for feminine items. Eventually, the man believes that if he becomes the woman, he will achieve a sort of hour-to-hour level of stimulation and fulfillment. The I-always-felt-like-a-girl backstory is just that: a story for the shrinks and the surgeons.

    Sadly, the post-surgical reality usually doesn't live up to the pre-surgical fantasy.

    These men would be better off being treated for sexual displacement.

    Although as a feminist, I hate to admit that Freud was right about anything, but I suspect there is an influence of a mother involved in a lot of male-to-female cases.
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