I finally admitted to myself that I am transgender in the late 00’s. I began transition in 2010. You could talk to me, but I am not going to confirm what you said. In fact, there was even more conflation of sex and gender back then. It was generally recognized that transgender meant that someone’s gender identity did not match sex assigned at birth (and it still means that). Transgender was an umbrella term for a lot of things. For instance, when my therapist in 2011 had to write a letter to my doctor so I could start on hormones, the term she used was “transsexualism.”
Transsexual is not a term that is used as much now, like cross-dressers are no longer called transvestites, but we are all still part of that umbrella described by the word transgender.
Likewise, I’ve seen increasingly less emphasis on genitals or changing genitals in the past 10 years. When I first transitioned, the idea was to start on hormones and eventually have genital reconstruction surgery. Fewer of us have felt the need to change their genitalia to match others’ expectations.
And for many of us, it is as much about sex as it is gender. I was finally able to change the sex on my birth certificate recently after jumping through a lot of hoops, including gcs and a surgeon’s affidavit.
I’m not sure if you misunderstood the transgender people you talked to, but I find it hard to believe their experiences now or 10 years ago vary that wildly from mine.
Hope that helps.