Another aspect of this is that of judgementalism. I am not judging anyone else who does see themselves as a person of one sex trapped in the body of another, or anyone for being male and happy in that gender. I too would like to be happy being male and have tried to get to that for many years. However, since i'm now in my mid-forties and cannot for the life of me reach this point, i think it's time to give up.
So, the way i see things is: being male is, for me, an illness, a bit similar to a skin disease or a vitamin deficiency. From the hormonal perspective, vitamin D is a steroid hormone which also occurs in the diet. If your body isn't given sufficient exposure to sunlight and you don't eat foods high in vitamin D either, you will acquire a vitamin deficiency such as rickets or osteomalacia. Taking that a bit further, if your adrenals don't produce enough corticosteroids, foods high in similar substances, such as licorice, can be used to top them up.
Moreover, illnesses are socially defined. Someone might have what they see as a disfiguring birthmark on their face which would adversely affect their self-esteem and the way others perceive them while having no direct impact on their physical health. There are of course other skin conditions which have more profound effects on people's physical health as well. Furthermore, there is a strong social element of another kind in disease. Coeliacs would not exist in cultures which don't eat wheat and alcoholics in societies free of alcohol would possibly have another problem but wouldn't be alcoholics.
Therefore i maintain that rather than being a woman in a man's body, for me actually being male is a disease for me, and also an incurable one which can, however, be managed in various ways. I would like to be integrated with my body but since i've started taking the phytoestrogen, it feels like i've started to add the missing ingredient, like i've been missing a nutrient all these years and have finally found it. Nor is this just about physical appearance. The psychological influence of excess testosterone is also significant, i think. All this could of course be placebo, but even then i feel i've taken some control of the situation.
So, what i'm saying is that to me, it's an illness, and an incurable one, but i can manage it by taking oestrogen in the same way as i manage my poor eyesight by wearing glasses.
In the past few days, i've been provoking a little disapproval in the comments. I consider this to be a good sign because it means i'm stirring up strong feelings rather than indifference. There is also the usual failure to appreciate the significance of what herbalism is, but also a more salient point, viz: i appear to be pushing myself away from equilibrium rather than towards it, which is how i interpret the reference to what i'm doing as being "not natural". This is what Vanilla Rose warned me about, i think: that this process is actually bad publicity for herbalism rather than good in some people's views. The concept of nature needs to be analysed, as it happens, so i'll do that tomorrow.