When I read some of the young MTF gender questioners, I can really identify with them, because I remember a time when I was them. Things were somewhat different then, I think there were like 4 of us young folk on the internet, in a community completely dominated by older transitioners, and completely dominated by MTFs. I remember we thought the older ones were skeevy too, I think that is just a part of being young, and some of them really were skeevy! I too was frequently hit on by some of these older transitioners, and found it creepy. I went to support groups and everyone was 20 years older than me. That part is different now, because there is substantial community of young trans people.
My dysphoria was rampant during my early teenage years, but subsided once I turned 16 and for the first time had some success with dating. It only reappeared with a vengeance when I discovered alt.transgendered, a then new Usenet group for trans folk. I couldn’t believe there were people in the real world that felt like me! Also I was dealing with the stress of newly being in college and being away from home for the first time. I felt so euphoric when I discovered people with similar feelings, and begun to believe that it was possible for me transition.
I came to believe that I had an essential transgender identity and it was important to express it. Both the community and the therapist I saw twice before being prescribed hormones confirmed it. I was on a high dose of estrogen and it created a kind of euphoria and emotional intensity I hadn’t experienced before. This was considered to be confirmation that I found my true self. I’ve said elsewhere that when I went back on T I liked it because it relieved my brain fog and social anxiety. That wasn’t what I felt then. I felt that E was truly right for me, and my new connection to my feelings was proof of it. There was a certain buzz that estrogen provided, almost like vicodin. I thought my social anxiety was due to passing fears and other trans-related issues. Now I believe that hormones just make you high in large doses. I had a similar effect when I started back on T, I remember the intense euphoria of my first T dose, but it only lasted a few months, and I returned to baseline.
I was tall, but I was young and people didn’t have as much trans awareness then. Not only did I pass (at least outside the queer community) but I was attractive. I got quite a bit of attention from men, many of them the same sort of men that used to bully me as a teenager. This attention validated my then fragile sense of self-worth and validated I was on the right path.
If you had asked me more than three years ago if I felt that transition was necessary , I would have said absolutely. No matter how many problems it caused in my life, I thought that being male was so repulsive that it was necessary. But, there were problems, besides the general difficulties of living as a trans woman, I still felt dysphoria. I still felt my body was wrong and wanted to make more changes. I considered implants and FFS, but something always drew me back when I got to the brink of it. In addition, no matter how much validation my sense of “being a woman” received I always needed more. If someone gendered me as male, it felt like a threat to my very existence.
However, there was always also a thread leading me home, I was seeking out experiences leading to my own healing. I wasn’t sure what I needed but I knew when I found it. I discovered embodied practice, studied psychology, went to therapy and had someone love me for who I was. Eventually I saw this “fixed and essential” female identity was nothing but an illusion, and was just something I created to keep me safe, because I couldn’t be myself as a man. Now, I know that is nonsense, as I can be myself and be accepted. Indeed, the very construct “being yourself as something” is a contradiction, because being yourself is not being as anything, it is just being.
So I don’t know which of you need to transition and which of you don’t, or if any of you do. I do support you whatever you decide. But I do know I see some of the same patterns that led me to transition, and it concerns me. Looking back it would have been nice to avoid all of that unnecessary suffering. I also see your doubts being brushed aside by rampant cheerleading, and that is dangerous.