Difficult To Get A Straight Answer, Isn’t It?
“And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything, that only a fool can become something.”
~Fyodor Dostoevsky - Notes From Underground
First allow me to impart my belief that no human can fully understand another, so the preliminary answer to your question is that being trans is probably an experience unique to each person.
It is widely accepted that gender-dysphoria exists. I consider it to be a human condition with many different manifestations, resulting in a range of unpleasant emotions, from mildly uncomfortable to intolerably distressing. I call it a human condition because I have not percieved it to any severe levels in other animals, and because it plagues a great number of people who have suffered by it to various extents at some time or another in our lives.
But, to be as coldly and condemningly rational as I am capable of; Dysphoria of any kind appears to have certain preconditions, one of which is relative safety and security within an over-prosperous society. It is akin to that streak of utopia-rebellion in humanity which causes us to be upset by nothing terrible occuring; the subconscious conviction that in the absence of suffering we must make ourselves suffer.
In a survival scenario for example, where every bead of sweat must be utilized toward the aim of preserving what small freedoms are afforded one by the merciless recriminations of the natural world, I think it likely that only the most extreme cases would endure, as there wouldn’t be enough downtime to indulge all the masochistic tortures with which the human brain so often occupies itself when idle.
That aside, seeing as we are idle, and various dysphorias do torment us, it is a passably reasonable opinion that we might attempt to formulate some kind of remedy to one of them which seems to have an obvious solution.
However (while I have no qualms whatsoever with crossdressing) being of an impractically old-fashioned disposition myself, I regard the surgical mutilation of genitalia with abject horror. More particularly knowing that even with a skilled surgeon it could all go very wrong, that most require further surgeries to correct abnormalities, and that infertility is usually part and parcel, even if it all goes smoothly. I know not how much my terror of body-mutilation and my joy in parenthood have combined to cloud the openness of my mind on the topic, for perhaps there is no way to scientifically measure the extent of human bias. Nevertheless I for one definitely find it worth the attempt to encourage all other avenues of comfort within oneself before resorting to surgical alteration.
I can anecdotally disclose that I was highly displeased with being female in my youth, wallowing in visceral despair and self-disgust at my appearance (which is a vanity I still partake in from time to time.) And, as I was (and still am, to be honest) possessed with an intense admiration for all things masculine, I might have easily gotten seriously obsessed with the idea of being male had I not then found and fallen in love with a male of comparible age and interest, thus rendering any inclination for being something other than a female obsolete.
This is not to say that I consider myself as having escaped some horrible fate; I cannot know what my life would or would not have been like in alternate dimensions. I know only that it was possible in my case for my opinion of myself to change drastically in a short period of time, and that I do not regret the direction my life has taken. I might go so far as to call the want of transformation ‘childish’ within myself, though I know that to others it is a far more overwhelming desire which endures long beyond the inelegant disturbances which plague every adolescence.
Yet there are those who succumb to the unavoidable throes of puberty with irreversible effects, and come later to regret that no one cared enough to discouraged them in their teenaged flights of fancy.
It is this which leads me to think, perhaps naively, that many cases of dysphoric transgenderism (especially in young people) will cease to take over the life of the avid self-questioner, given enough time and empathy of surroundings, without resorting to surgical interference or rampent enabling, which in itself is a cruelty none should be put to bear. To place a person’s whims above their well-being is a degradation which no soul professed of compassion should be able to inflict upon a loved one.
This should not be taken as any particular insult to the persons afflicted with wanting a different body. It is a universal, not particular, folly; to be confused, or to be sure of oneself for that matter. Both are detestable qualities in some respects. After all, no sane person should be expected to know without a shred of decent doubt what exactly one’s own mind thinks about the fact of it’s querulous existence, less still to make imperiously sensible decisions as to it's bodily condition.
But of course the audacious pomposity of that last statement is at once apparent to all who place any sort of passing importance on the notion of free will; for we must choose our own way, regardless.