Fifteen years after transition, this is where I am with trans and gender. Gender and transgender are cultural, not innate. There is no psychological characteristic of one sex which the other does not have, or which is not good or bad in the same way. The greater physical size of males can make males more physically demonstrative of dominance or anger. The difference comes from socialisation, which is pervasive from birth, performed by adults and children, and enforced by violence including ostracism, mockery and physical force. Gender and status are intertwined: non-conforming gender marks you down, though particularly gifted individuals can be recognised within alternative communities.
If the culture were different, valuing all gender expression by all, whether male or female, that would free everyone. To varying degrees, everyone would be gender-fluid, and non-binary gender would cease to have meaning. No-one can know what trans would look like, because trans is affected by culture.
I oppose people being poisoned and mutilated by hormones and surgery. I would be interested to know what proportion of people who have a vaginoplasty manage to dilate it to accommodate a penis comfortably, and how many use it for penetrative sex. The research has not been done, but I could not dilate enough, and my friend who was penetrated said her partner’s penis was sore afterwards, as the neovagina is not as accommodating as natural vaginas. I sympathise with people with breasts who do not want them stared at; it is as if you are an appendage to a pair of breasts sometimes; and binders are painful and constrict breathing. No-one should have to have their body altered to escape oppression.
Natural bodies are beautiful and best allowed to develop naturally. A human not tortured by shame will love their body from childhood, be led to value the changes of puberty, and will care for their body, without needing compulsive behaviours which damage it as a way to escape reality. All bodies have a wide range of gender.
Hormones have made my emotions fluctuate wildly, and make me overheat when I exercise. That emotional volatility is not the whole reason I ceased being able to work, but is part of it.
Sex is potentially far more costly for women than for men. Culture could ameliorate that but instead exacerbates it, with “sluts” and “incels” alike shamed, and all that Me too has revealed to the half of the population unaware of it before- if they have been listening.
Trans is a response to the culture. At first it was strongly repressed but it still burst out, in Molly clubs and solitary individuals. Then the culture sought to manage it: just as English Law protects “transsexual persons” narrowly defined, certain expressions of transgender are tolerated, and there is social pressure to conform to those expressions. Social pressure causes people to have hormones and surgery.
The whole range of transgender activities in AMAB folk is associated with erotic arousal. Arousal is not the sole cause, but may exacerbate the compulsive nature of it. If AFAB people feel aroused by trans activity society is less aware of that, which echoes the Victorian attitude to same sex attraction: gay men were criminal, lesbians were not believed to exist.
There is no feminist campaign which is not weakened by hostility to trans women. The disgust freely expressed at trans women by some feminists is phobic, and should be recognised as phobic- gently worked around, not encouraged as a source of pride and group-identification. Trans women subvert gender norms by ostentatiously flouting them, upsetting conservatives.
The cost of diversity in society is paid by the people who are different. Conformity is prized, but diversity is a beautiful gift. If everyone was free to express their whole self everyone would be happier, and society enriched. However as things are now, a lot of people are happier after transition, and should be allowed to. It makes people’s lives better.