you don’t need to have dysphoria to be trans or transition, you can just do it and be a girl or a boy or both or neither or anything else. but for those of us who do have dysphoria, it can be hard to explain how that experience specifically can drive someone to transition. David Foster Wallace gives a very poignant description of feeling suicidal in Infinite Jest that also applies to what gender dysphoria can feel like at its worst. this is the “psychotically depressed person” passage (bottom of page 696 in mine):
The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.
the gist is that there are a lot of parts of transitioning that people do dread, and that it is in many ways “the fall.” nobody truly looks forward to having their genitals surgically rearranged in the abstract; at least not in those terms. you either do it or you don’t, it involves a tradeoff. it’s unfortunately an enormous hassle, involving a complex bureaucratic dance, physical pain, and frequently not-insignificant financial expenditure. and yet: the flames. weighing the two in your head, transitioning comes out on top. or it doesn’t.