Hi Riley, welcome to the best transperson site on the Web! You can read my bio for thw whole back story, but I just started HRT in November and estradiol a few weeks ago. My wife of 40 years was blindsided by my crossdressing, then another body blow when I realized I needed to start HRT.
From my experience, the feelings of dysphoria never get better. Meds can mute the anxiety and depression, but they can pretty much sideline you from your own life (as I was for most of my 6 decades on this rock). The fear of coming out is understandable – I was barely able to come ot to my wife as a CD. But all my other interactions have been overwhelmingly positive. Outside of a spouse or children, most people won’t react badly because they are into their own lives and problems.
But that being said, I’ve been told I pass well. I started coming out to people that would be most affirming. I stayed in stealth to everyone but my medical team, and joined a local group of CDs and TGs that get together once a month to just talk and have a meal or beverage at a LGBTQ-friendly place here.
Depending on your community, most people you’d encounter may double take, but won’t say or do anything to embarrass you. Just be cautious around momma bears with her cubs if you need to use a ladies’ room while out. Make sure that there are no children in a public restroom and wait or go elsewhere. You can google public stores, etc. that have LGBTQ-friendly restrooms (“family” facilites, or even men, women, and trans or “other”).
If you do decide to come out to people, my therapist suggested by starting with ones you KNOW will be accepting. If a family member or friend is negative, then set boundaries to let them know you will have to limit contact if they won’t accept your decision to live your life the way that is most fulfilling to you. Also, make sure your employer has all the safeguards in place to ensure you are affirmed.
I know your original post is a year old, but I also saw you have recent posts and replies. Hope mine can give some clarity. For what it’s worth even though my marriage has been somewhat imploded, I don’t reget starting to come out, just that I didn’t trust my wife’s reaction years ago to tell her my truth.