How to Respect a Trans Person
This wikiHow was made for those who have recently learned of a transgendered person in their lives, and are unsure of how to act around them without offending or hurting their feelings. The term "transgendered person" in this article means a person born into the body opposite of the gender they feel they truly are. (In simple terms, men trapped in women's bodies, and women trapped in men's bodies.) This condition is known as Gender Dysphoria and shouldn't be confused with transgender as transgender includes crossdressing and other issues, which don't necessarily mean that they feel trapped in their bodies.
Thank them. It is very hard to come out to people as transgendered. They trust and/or respect you very much to have come out to you. Thank them for trusting you; it will mean a lot to them, because YOU mean a lot to them.
Respect their gender identity. Think of them as the gender they refer to themselves as and refer to them with their chosen name and gender pronoun (regardless of their physical appearance) from now on. (Unless they are not out, or tell you otherwise. Ask to be sure if or when there are times it is not okay.)
Watch your past tense. When talking of the past don't use phrases like "when you were a previous gender", because to them they have always been the gender they have come out to you as, but had to hide it for whatever reasons. If you have to use this, say "before you came out as current gender."
Use the proper terms. Use words for their proper gender, not the one they were. If they were born male (MtF - male-to-female), use feminine words like she, her, actress, waitress, etc. If they were born female (FtM - female-to-male), use masculine terms like he, his, etc. (Unless they say otherwise.)
Don't be afraid to ask. If you have a question that isn't too personal (based upon what type of person they are and the relationship you share), ask them. They will be happy to answer most questions, and glad you are taking an interest in their life.
Respect their need for privacy. Do not out them. Telling people you are transgendered is a very difficult decision, not made lightly. "Outing" them without their permission is a betrayal of trust and could possibly cost you your relationship with them. It may also put them at risk, depending on the situation, of losing a lot - or even being harmed. They will tell who they want, if or when they are ready.
Recognize the difference between gender identity and sexuality. Do not assume that their gender has anything to do with sexuality. It doesn't. Their sexuality is the exact same and has nothing at all to do with their gender identity. Terms may change, but that is it. To clarify: A transman who identified as straight before will now identify as gay; a transwoman who was straight will be a lesbian. A transman who was lesbian is now straight; and a transwoman who was gay is now straight. Bisexuals will remain the same. The sexual preference does not change, only the term in relation to their gender.
Treat them the same. While they may appreciate your extra attention to them, they don't particularly appreciate you making a big deal about them. After you are well-informed, make sure you're not going overboard. Transgendered people essentially have the same personalities as you and I. Treat them as you would someone "normal".
If the person was born a man, she is a transwoman, MtF, or simply a female/woman. If the person was born a woman, he is a transman, FtM, or simply a male/man.
Asking about peoples' genitals and how they have sex is not appropriate; in the same way asking cisgendered (non-trans) people how they have sex is not appropriate.
Everyone is different and most transgendered people will be glad to answer any questions - but if they are uncomfortable answering, or don't want to, then let it go. If you need to know, use the resources below.
Not all transgendered people get a sex change (SRS, or Sexual Reassignment Surgery), so don't automatically think that is the plan.
If you slip up early on and say "she" or "he" when you meant the other, don't apologize too much, just follow the mistake with the right term and continue what you were saying.
There is no "cure" for being transgendered, except to correct the physical appearance to match the mental gender identity. There is a problem with the body, not the mind.
Websites like PlanetOut or MySpace have transgender groups, or other sections for transgendered people; go to them to talk to people or learn more.
Do not call their transsexuality or transgenderedness a "choice". It is not. The only choice is to try to ignore it and be miserable, or accept it and make any changes that feel necessary to live a happier life.
Do not call a non-transgendered person a "real" girl/boy etc. What makes a man a "real" man or a woman a "real" woman is their mind/brain, not their body. A transman is no less a real man and a transwoman is no less a real woman; the ONLY difference is that their body does not match their gender. That's it. A good word to use when referring to non-transgendered people is "cisgendered", or non-trans.
NEVER tell them that people will not understand or love them because they were not born the right gender outside. It hurts very badly, and is not true. Many transgendered people are understood, accepted and loved.
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