This is your big sister, Abbie. I'm 50. I have some perspective regarding your plaintive frustration at the end of your piece?
Do we ever stop needing external validation? Yes. I've been through so fucking much in my life I know I can deal with anything. And so I simply don't give a fuck. I'm also damned unconcerned generally with other people's opinion of me. I didn't start transition until I was 48. Sometimes I can pass pretty well. Until I open my mouth (voice therapy is a way off yet).
But I live out and proud because, as I said IDGAF.
Do we still WANT external validation? Ah... That's a different question.
I hadn't spoken to my parents in 14 years. When I got in touch finally it was to come out to them as a woman and as a lesbian. Didn't go great. But I've persisted because as bad as my parents have been to me, some part of me still wants that approval.
A supportive partner can go a hell of a long way in helping you deal with all this. But an unsupportive one can make it ten times worse.
Look at me with the bad news. Sigh. As your big sister I'm not gonna bullshit you. Life can suck as a trans person. But you do have agency here. You can limit the suckage. I remind myself of the courage it takes to come out, to present as your true gender those first painful, fearful, imperfect times. And I take the sass that got me out of my front door, presenting as a woman those first times and I weaponise it.
Take hold of your sass, lil sibling, and weaponise it. You are capable of far more than you think.
Much love, many hugs.