By 5 to 7 years of age they begin to notice that they have dreams, fantasies and perhaps exhibit signs that they are drawn to the idea of being females. If the family notices anything they are usually strongly discouraged and the child learns to suppress; at the very least the behaviour goes underground in order to avoid ridicule.
The onset of puberty brings a new wrinkle in that their burgeoning sexual attraction towards females is in conflict with this desire for feminization. The first signs of orgasms at the presence of these fantasies now become stressful and they begin to truly engage in all out eradication in an attempt to be normal. Unfortunately the "erotic imprinting" (which typically happens between 5 and 10 years of age) is already in place and is now there for life.
The teen years bring an invigorated and forceful period of denial where they actively seek out female companionship and masculanize themselves as much as possible; any hint of feminity is quashed and the slightest notice of it by another brings anger, frustration and embarassment.
By their 20's and 30's with the idea that couplehood will cure what ails them, they will go into fill blown denial and perhaps engage in sporadic periods of crossdressing to relieve their dysphoria. This will work until sometime between age 40 and 50, during which time the feelings must be acknowledged and explored with an increased sense of urgency. The pressure begins to reach an unmanageable crescendo and something must be done. By now there may be several children and a spouse to reveal deep seated feelings to and they are typically prone to come out in emotional and cathartic exchanges.
At this point they have little choice but to find a solution that will balance their desire for feminization and their wish and need to provide and care for the people that matter to them most. Most divorces will happen here as the compromise required may involve some measure of transition which the vast majority of women simply cannot live with.
The 50's brings a remaking of life and a fresh start as they become self actualised for the first time. The end of the old life and the start of a new one brings major readjustment but also peace.
I have read numerous versions of this story countless times over the last twenty years in the blogs and personal pages of people who have transitioned and some who have not. All of them did their best to do what was asked of them and all eventually did what they needed to do for themselves. It also happens to be my story. There seems to be no escaping it and the key towards peace begins with self acceptance but need not end at transition. That last part is up to you.
The one common element in all of these life stories is that the internal woman remains intact.