The underlying issue for someone who is trans is labelled as gender dysphoria these days. Before it was labelled “gender identity disorder”, but there was a fair amount of discomfort with the word “disorder” since it implies something awry.
Personally I think it is reasonable to say that there is a general norm that genetics, sex and gender line up given that other cases are relatively rare, but I surely understand not wanting to be identified as having a mental illness, and in fact declaring that gender dysphoria or homosexuality are illnesses is really not very well supported. It’s accurate to say they are variances in normal biology. There is homosexual behavior seen in other animals, and there’s no reason to believe humans are somehow different.
Let’s lookup the definition of the word dysphoria:
a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life
So one might expect that gender dysphoria would be:
a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with gender
This is then what’s really meant when you hear the canard “A woman born in a man’s body.” But it isn’t always experienced that way. A trans person may have lived a good while without addressing the dysphoria, may have bona fide mental problems like depression brought about by the dysphoria and doesn’t necessarily feel like a woman, for an MtF, just yet.
Dysphoria for me was a changing thing. When I was growing up, right up to a year before I came out it was a gradually worsening condition that made me aware on a frequent basis how my body didn’t match what my mind expected.
Starting a year before I came out it was a frantic desire to transition because I was intensely unhappy with my biological sex and wanted to live as my true gender.
After I came out it was similar but at the same time my “male” model was rapidly falling apart. Depression made adapting difficult but for awhile the ability to dress (don woman’s attire) would calm me down. As mentioned elsewhere things rolled along from there.
At times the dysphoria was like an internal voice shouting that I was living the wrong life and in the wrong body. Even after transitioning there were issues with having male genitalia, yet another form of dysphoria.
The magic $64,000 question. Why does this happen. Recent studies that look at sexually dimorphic areas of the brain, i.e. areas of the brain that have some measurable difference in men and women, show correlations between women and trans women, and men and trans men, and that these correlations are not dependent on having taken hormones.
What might be happening? I’ve seen a lot of theories, but consider that roughly 30% of siblings of a trans twin will also be trans. At this point there doesn’t seem to be a proven theory.
To my mind any one of the studies, because they involve small numbers of individuals, could prove to be faulty. However, the sum of all these studies basically proves that when I say I have a female brain, chances are pretty good that I have, for all intents and purposes a female brain.
If you can accept the notion that a male bodied person could be born with a feminized brain, then it isn’t a hard stretch to understand why that male is going to be intensely unhappy with their body. The brain is expecting to find female genitalia and a social environment appropriate for a female, but instead finds male genitalia and a male social environment (which is a darned sight different).
This also explains why HRT and SRS are medical interventions and not some whim on the part of an individual. For me and many like me SRS is curative, we stop having a body image problem, at least other than the standard female issue of wanting to look better, be thinner, etc.
When I walk around now I feel genuine. As I live now I have no dysphoria. What more could I ask for?