I am writing this because I'm aware one of my friends is considering whether it's right for her to transition (i.e. to live full-time as a female).
As someone who has transitioned I know how difficult this decision can be.
In truth I was unsure right up until just a month or two ago - almost 18 months after I had transitioned! And for a good 6 months before I did transition I felt caught between a rock and a hard place.
I knew I felt unhappy having to pretend to be male. My gender dysphoria distracted me greatly at the most inconvenient of times and I seemed at times not to be able to escape the distress I felt. To be sure, this was one of the most unhappiest periods of my life and it often drove me to tears.
Naturally, I wanted to escape this pain and the only way that seemed possible was to transition from living as a male to living as a female but I feared the penalties of doing so.
I feared losing my job and my husband. If either of those two things happened I risked being homeless and in financial difficulties. I also knew that many transsexuals experienced what I feared first hand. That many transsexuals were forced to turn to sex work because of being unable to find other work. That some grew so desperately unhappy that they committed suicide. And I obviously knew of the transphobia that exists and how this can lead to trans people being attacked and murdered.
So, as I say, I felt caught between a rock and a hard place - whether to transition or not was no easy decision to make. So I can quite understand why other trans people seek help in making this decision.
In response to their predicament I will say that without selfishness and a devil-may-care attitude to failure I may never have transitioned.
Putting myself first helped me see that, no matter what anyone else thought, if I didn't make myself happy then I would surely make everyone else in my life unhappy as well as myself. Whereas if I made myself happy then I was guaranteed at least one winner and in a far better position to have a positive effect on everyone's life including my own.
And being able to ignore the risk of failure empowered me to step beyond fear and act with courage. Thus I became less concerned with a future that was yet to be decided and concentrate my efforts on the present. It is, after all, the present that decides the future and if the present is not as it should be then how can we hope the future to be?
So, make no mistake about it, transitioning is not for the faint of heart. In truth, I was desperate when I transitioned but without that desperation I may not have discovered the two qualities I mention above which helped make my transition a success.
But, as I said, until a month or two ago I was still unsure whether transitioning was the right decision to make.
What convinced me was the realisation that I would never exchange my gender expression for anything else. Any pain I am currently suffering would not even begin to compare to the pain I would feel having to pretend I was male again.
But I would never have realised that without first transitioning and achieving the peace of mind I have now. So it seems to me that you will never truly know whether transitioning is the right thing to do without having first transitioned.
That is not to say that I think you should transition. After all, every person - whether trans or not - is unique and thus everything we experience is unique to us. So, even though I provide a lengthy discourse above, I can never answer the question "Should I transition?" for anyone other than myself. I'm sorry if I mislead you otherwise.