One of the more challenging aspects of transition is dealing with acceptance versus perception. On the face of it, it may seem like a minor distinction, but practically it runs to the heart of gender dysphoria.
So how do acceptance and perception differ? Well, acceptance is calling someone by their identified name and gender. It shows respect for the person by acknowledging their gender identity. However, perception is not only using the correct name and gender, but SEEING you as that gender. It is surpassing the need to perform a mapping in your head from old identity to new, to instead overwriting your internal representation with the new identity.
The most obvious way to see the difference is to examine behaviour. When a trans person is treated differently in any way from how any other person of that gender is treated, then perception is still tied to that old mental model.
It is very hard to change that internal representation, especially for friends or family who have lived with that old mental model for much of their lives. But even harder still, is that a trans person’s OWN mental model has ALWAYS been of the “new” identity. So a variance in behaviour towards them post transition shows the variance in how they are perceived by others, which strikes hard at the core of their identity.
There is no easy answer. Acceptance and support are gifts. Perception is the transcendence of acceptance to ONLY see the true identity, and eliminates any unintended applied behavioural differentiation based on an outdated mental model. Acceptance is a choice, and one that each of us are boundlessly grateful for. But perception lies far deeper, at the subconscious level. And for a trans person, perception is the greatest gift of all.