As a prerequisite to becoming emotionally healthy we need to wash off the elements of our social education which work against us. For transgender people that entails removing the tenets that were part of our patriarchal formation that all but ensured we became self-hating. If you broke the rules of that education, you were failing by not measuring up.
As I grew up I became my own worst enemy because I would sporadically fail at meeting the criteria for being a "real man". My forays into dressing were signs that there was something deeply wrong with me. This realization became truly evident as I hit puberty and was faced with a dilemma: “if you want to be normal you must rid yourself of these feelings”. Hence, I went about doing my best to eradicate them. Interesting thing though: the more you want to suppress something innate, the harder it bounces back.
My education was so pervasive and deeply rooted that I could not comprehend that this difference was not something I created. I was the first born of a deeply religious family and I wanted to do the right thing, but these feelings were conspiring against me and not letting me be. Once I came to the realization that I was not the cause of the problem things became a little easier. What then remained, was the long journey of shedding the weight of my formation which even then took many years.
Today I am deeply aware that I am transsexual, but I have sought ways to work around choices I made before I came to that full realization.
I don’t work on manning up anymore but instead on my emotional well-being which is far more important. Having that as an essential asset, I can then make better informed and more balanced choices going forward.