Stacy, these are comforting words, and I think this mother was trying to say that to her daughter, and shake off some of the social controls arising with respect to the meaning of ‘trans*’.
I am trying to parse ‘authentic’ as a standard. Through cross-dressing, I think I am being authentic- choosing the clothes that make sense to me to communicate my sense of gender.
My wife’s view is that I am not authentic at those times. She feels it as an overreach, an unnecessary and troubling way to justify the feelings I want to experience and express.
I can see her point, as my personality is logically independent of my clothing. But a purpose of clothing is to express feelings. Maybe we need to define terms and add some words when we say- “be authentic — be yourself!”
“My daughter/son, let your dress and grooming and behavior be whatever makes sense to you as useful for expressing how you perceive the world and want to be perceived. Others will try to dissuade you by arguing that the culture demands something different, but the culture is composed of all the individual actions and thoughts. Our collective culture will be enlivened and enriched by your authentic reaction to it. Say so to those who will try to restrict you.”
Expressing things that are not appreciated by others can elicit isolation, or shaming, which are manageable. Sometimes violence, which is not, and we have to be wary. It is a difficult road, but we choose authenticity because we must. “