Years ago, I was told by my deceased wife I didn't have any real idea of what being a woman was all about. All I wanted to do was to be the "pretty, pretty princess." You know what? She was right.
My disclaimer here is...it's fine to be the pretty princess but don't think it is representative of living in society full time as a transgender woman. It just isn't.
Fortunately these days, there are many paths opening up which can aid your integration into mainstream society.
Both Paula and Connie have comments.
"I fear that all too many of us spend way too much time with other trans people. I didn't go through all this so I could join an exclusive club! I want to enjoy my life as a woman out in general society; making music with my friends, watching some Rugby and just generally getting on with life."
I agree, I know now I spend the majority of my "social" time with non trans people.
And now from Connie:
"I would encourage anyone who wants to put themselves in the mainstream to find a Meetup group in their area. Just about any subject or activity that may interest you has a group you can join. The first one I joined was a women's dine-out group. I messaged the organizer, beforehand, just to let her know that I was trans. She thanked me and said that it was OK with her. I did then ask her to not tell the others, because I wanted to attend without any preconceived notions. I proceeded by joining other groups that were not gender-specific. There are lgbtq groups, as well, but I avoid them. I would rather come across another member of the lgbtq community among a mainstream group. Over the years, there has been only one woman who objected to my being a part of the group. She expressed this to the organizer, who told her not to attend if she didn't like being in the same room with a trans woman. Her loss, not mine!
Volunteering is a great way to find acceptance within a group. Kandi tells of many experiences she has through volunteering in her Kandi's Land blog. I've not done as much volunteering as I'd like, but it's not because I'm worried about my trans status - maybe a little laziness, though.
Finding a job may be more difficult than working one, but I don't think there has been anything more affirming than gaining the trust and appreciation of an employer, not to mention that I work totally integrated with the public.
The day I made the decision to live totally as my true-self, I did just that. Part of that decision was that I needed to stop doubting myself, if I were to expect anyone else to not doubt me. Of course, I was totally cognizant that some may doubt my womanhood, but the onerous is on them to either accept me or stay away; I exist, and I have the same right to be anywhere and do anything as do they.
There is a process involved in getting oneself to be confident enough to begin a transition, but I think that, unless one is willing to jump in all-the-way, the transition (at least, socially) may be unnecessarily fraught with pitfalls. I enjoy living in the mainstream now. All I can say is: Jump on in; the water's fine! :-)"
"Meet Up" groups are a great way to go! Liz and I have been to many. I have only been refused once. To a lesbian only group. Like you said, their loss, not mine.