This story made my day:
The Woman Within: Are You Calling Me a Lady?
For trans people, there is nothing more validating than having a stranger address you by your real gender when you're not even presenting as such. There have been a couple times when my wife has gone out in guy-mode-- no make-up, masculine clothes (did I mention she's 6 feet tall?), and still been called "ma'am." This affirms the progress she's made with her transition. She no longer needs to dress hyper-feminine and try so hard to pass. She is simply acknowledged as a woman because she is one.
On second thought, after reading the above blog, there is something even more validating: when people who deny your true gender seem downright mentally unstable.
I heard a trans guy talk about how his mom insists on calling him by his female birth name. Given that he completely passes as a dude and everyone else uses his male name, his mom sounds ridiculous and crazy.
When Jake's mom said, "You'll always be my little guy," my sassy wife retorted, "Good luck with that when I show up with boobs and long hair."
Whenever someone in our trans circle of friends has a boy fail (everyone is about a year into transition), the whole group reads about in a text message or talks about it over dinner. The story usually has a tone of mortification due to an awkward social interaction, or just the shock of being publicly identified when trying to hide. Although we empathize with the discomfort, the reaction is always the same:
Congratulations that your hormone therapy and agonizing hair removal treatments have paid off.
Congratulations that after tremendous anxiety about whether you will ever pass as a woman, you can longer pass as a man.
Congratulations that after a lifetime of repressing your gender identity, now people see the real you (whether you want them to or not).