There are certain times in life where nobody gets no damn training wheels when they try to ride the machine. There’s no stepdad or big brother or older friend to give you the proper instructions on how to drive, and your first time in, you mash on the brake and the accelerator at the same time too many damn times, screwing up the transmission. Damn, who’s gonna pay for that shit? Not you with your newspaper route, dammit.
To drive, most of us (hopefully) have a teacher who does the right thing and implants the proper procedure for interaction between yourself and the person, place, or thing you desire to interact with! The point is, not everyone is granted this luxury in life, and it certainly applies to the sexual relationship, much less the regular secular relationship that many people have with transgender individuals.
It’s something I KNOW I NEVER was taught about, from Kindergarten to OAC (when they still had that option in the Ontario school system, yeah I’m old school). I was never taught by any government organization, and never was informed about sexual propriety with trans folks from anybody in the medical community, which in hindsight, kinda seems like where delicate sexual information should probably emerge from.
First, I heard jokes in songs and in movies. Then I heard friends (at the time, I didn’t know it was unfriendly) say random things that were often ignorant and misinformed. But I didn’t give it respect. I just gave it notice, that there was an unknown cipher of sexuality that was always there, but always unexplored. It was kinda like the X factor. I knew gay people. I knew lesbian people. This wasn’t that.
I heard the term “Two-Spirited” at some point in my twenties, and started to gain some kind of definition for trans. What I never got, until nearly a decade later, was a way to know how to approach a trans person with clear and inoffensive intentions.
I still don’t know of a standard set of questions to ask or dialogue that can be chosen by someone to advance their sexual intentions to connect to a trans person. I suppose some people like myself just stumble through it until they are adept at it the fourth or fifth time, making strides and standing tall beside our trans lover instead of shrinking into embarrassment and pronoun failure.
There can be very little other way forward. Failing with your heart in your hands is the best way to make sure they know you meant well… and after they know that, then hopefully the pleasantries are broken down and the fun starts up!