Melissa (and Sophie in Mental Boonies) also said something about a current debate going on concerning what is a transsexual person.
My own take is that you know if you are, and there's little more to say. When I realised what I was back in 2008, it hit me like an express train. I had absolutely no doubt, and still haven't. And I instantly saw that something had to be done about it, and fairly urgently, because my life was running out. A close definition of what I was didn't seem to matter. In any case, I wasn't the analytical sort. I've had to become much better at self-examination, but it's not something I find fascinating, and frankly I'd rather get on with the practical things that need attending to.
I suppose I'm 'an older pre-op male-to-female transsexual with infant and adolescent self-perception problems but a discontinuous past history of cross-dressing'. So what? I'm also (and more meaningfully) a healthy retired outgoing single female person with ample means and education, ecologically and politically aware, and able to insist on my consumer rights. I hope I'm just as empathetic as anyone else, and sane and responsible to boot. I'm a keen motorist, caravanner and photographer, and a life member of the National Trust. I've also got blue eyes. There's no label to cover all that adequately. So I don't try. And even if there were a label for me that everyone could understand without error, I'd be developing all the time, and then the label wouldn't fit any more. So there's no point. And I'd hate to think that being 'older' or 'pre-op' might place me in a distinct group, so that I could never talk freely to 'young' or 'post-op' people. Labelling is divisive. It can lead to in-fighting and defensive attitudes, when really there are no differences.
And if I were obliged to stand up and be counted, and sign petitions, and lobby MPs, I think I'd be more inclined to do so as a 'senior citizen', and not specifically as a transgendered person. Despite their voting power, and in some cases economic clout, old people as a class are dismissed as an irrelevant nuisance in today's Western societies. Successive governments in the UK have treated older people in a most shabby fashion, eroding their social position, building insecurity in their minds, and making daily life complex and inconvenient. A few disabled parking spaces here and there, and an extra tenner at Christmas, are no substitute for vanished post offices, being forced to grapple with the Internet, and many other little humiliations. Some old folk cope easily; many do not. They've made their contribution, even if they simply paid their taxes. What about an adequate payback? David Cameron, Nick Clegg, David Miliband et al please take note.