I am happier than I've ever been in my life. I've experienced types of happiness that I never knew existed. The unhappiness that I never had a name for has gone away. I've had some losses, but it was worth it. (And I might have lost those things anyway.)
Transgender is such a foreign concept to most people that it's hard for us to understand: trans* people want the same things as everyone else. We want to be happy. We want to be safe. We need to use the bathroom. We want to be reasonably comfortable in our bodies and our lives. We want food, clothing, shelter, and love.
Society makes demands on everyone. It rewards conformity and punishes non-conformity. I don't just mean gender non-conformity. Insofar as we fail to conform to the standard of white, male, able-bodied, gender-normative, hetero-normative (or fail to affirm that those qualities deserve to be valued over all others), we are punished. We punish ourselves.
Even people who say that they believe in "freedom" or "equality," that they're not sexist/racist/whatever, have strange blind spots. And some people take "freedom" to mean that they have a license to be abusive - or that we can't stop other people from being abusive. If we all got to do whatever we wanted to do, would we automatically end up hurting other people? I don't know. I never wanted to believe that. We do end up hurting other people. (But sometimes we hurt them because we believe that's what society wants us to do.)
We all have something that drives us on. Something that means more than anything or anyone else in the world. (Some thing . . . one or two things, maybe.) If we're lucky we get to name that something. If we're lucky we get to pursue that something. If we're lucky, it's not something that will harm ourselves or others. If we're lucky, it's something that no one can take away from us.
Expressing that something in the world is a form of authenticity. And no matter what our status, no matter how privileged we are, society calls on us to renounce authenticity. It requires us to pretend to be either more or less than we really are.
Does authenticity count for anything? That is the question.