It changes almost imperceptibly over time; you realize you are no longer crossdressing but simply being yourself. You relax in public and stop caring about what others think of you or whether you even pass. It is a very freeing experience.
I can’t tell you when exactly the change took place but it’s safe to say that over the last 5 years it progressed to where I am today.
The persona of Joanna is truly just myself but in a different guise. This guise allows me to gesture and move and feel the way I want and the way that society frowns upon for a male. I allow my gestures to be more feminine and I alter my speech patterns and pitch to match. The freedom and relaxation it brings me takes me back to a simpler time when I didn’t realize that what I was doing was not seen as normal or desirable.
I also think it’s important to see the humour in what you are doing.
When I first started dressing up in public it was such a serious and dread-filled experience that I was not able to truly enjoy it. I was doing something I had to do but it was forbidden and frowned upon. I allowed those thoughts to dampen my positive feelings.
The guilt and shame can destroy you if you do not get rid of them.
Even as I continue to see this as an abnormality among many abnormalities in this world, your attitude around it makes all the difference to your quality of life. You need to spin it into something positive and constructive and I now see it more as a gift which has allowed me to grow as a person in ways I would not have if I did not have this condition.
Accepting who you are also settles the issue of transition. If you are happy simply dressing as a woman then that can be good enough and you need not go further. Unfortunately this is not an obvious conclusion when you are mired in the reflection process.
If you are a type I or II or on the Benjamin scale there is no confusion: you are a male who enjoys crossdressing and are sure about your identity.
If you are a type V or VI you are a woman.
Unfortunately for types III and IV, there is much reflection required and confusion can reign before coming to a final decision. This was the case for me.
My advice is to do nothing in haste and to spend many long hours reflecting on what you need to do to be whole and content as a human being.
You might just find that a few hours a week in a dress is all you need to be happy.