Thank you for writing about this Galen. It’s a quandary, and a very old one.
When I transitioned 15 years ago the standing joke was that you could ask other people you thought might be trans “Do you by any chance know Russell Reid?” (the gender specialist I saw) as so many UK folks were his patients.
But of course we never did.
It’s easier these days. We’re literally everywhere, and lots of us know each other via friends or (for example) activism on Twitter. We even have Pride events where several thousand of us gather and get to know each other (over 4000 trans people gather for Trans Pride Brighton every summer, and it’s wonderful).
We have our own flag, we have badges and we’re not afraid to show either when the time is right. I literally have a huge “Trans and Cool” badge from GenderJamNI on my winter coat right now — which is not something anyone would have dared do not so long ago.
It’s all kinda fabby…but still, there will always be those moments when you’re not sure and want to say something, but know you shouldn’t.
But even then, a smile is always a lovely thing to do. So I smile quite a bit.