I too am one of the “professional” (though I don’t seem to be making any money as such), very out, activist, blog keeping (but very lazy about it lately) trans women. I hope one day I can simply forget my male roots and just be a woman, even if it is just for a day or two, but I can’t and the reality of the matter hits home on several levels. As with you, Matt, there is a long list of things – many of yours I can relate too though we travel in the opposite direction across gender lines.
I have 2 sons and I am their father – that fact isn’t going to change; I have a rather large build so I stand out in a crowd and am often read because of that extra level of scrutiny even though I try to dress very fem and age appropriate; my voice is of a timbre that is somewhere in between masculine and feminine and draws extra scrutiny; I spend most of my time in a town where many people knew the old me (though fortunately most of these people are very supportive and like the new me far better); and being very active in Trans and TLGB activism I can’t help but be aware that I am trans. And if that isn’t enough there are enough jerks in the world that love to make snide comments and act the bully, ever ready to remind me of my flaws (real or imagined on their part) – lately it is every couple of weeks I have some such encounter. (It disturbs me that this behavior seems to be on the rise, but that is for a different discussion sometime).
I simply have to rest secure in the knowledge of who I am, why I am here and that in my former pseudo-man life I proved over and over to myself that, in spite of having a penis, I really was not a man though God knows I gave it my best shot. I have to draw strength from these facts and from my faith that tells me God made me this way intentionally (I am NOT a mistake!!) and my being trans is a loving gift (though I for a long time considered it a curse). It is this faith, by the way, that drives me to be an activist and very out and visible – it is that “let your light so shine…” kind of thing for me so I dare not forget from whence I came to be a woman.
I am generally very happy that I am trans because life is so much better being out and free to be myself than it ever was in all the years I tried to hide it, fight it and deny it. Basically I have a “this-is-the-real-me, deal-with-it!” attitude. Having gone from someone who had to hide her feminine side just to survive her adolescence and early adult years to now trying to hide the damage done by 50 years of testosterone overdose I think I have a greater appreciation for being a woman than I would have had I simply been born female thus taking everything fem about myself for granted.
I know several trans women who have been able to pass perfectly and blend in and for a while I envied them, but I don’t any more. We trans-folks have so much more to give in support of others if we are out and visible. We make a positive difference in our world simply by being seen and known and we make it a safer place for those who will in the years to come discover their true selves and walk out into the light.