- Thank them for trusting you. It isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It takes people a long time to come to terms with gender, and it’s often dangerous to bring up. Even when it isn’t, people are scared of the reactions of others.
- Respect their gender identity. Call them by the gender and gender pronoun they prefer, and ask them what they are.
- Do not tell anyone they have not given you permission to about their gender. Not only is it a betrayal of trust, but it can, again, be dangerous. Along with this you should ask if there are people who don’t know, and how you should refer to the person confiding in you when those who don’t know are around.
- Realize that everyone’s experience with their gender identity is different, and remember it is not the same thing as sexuality. Not everyone wants to transition, and not everyone views male and female the same way. Some people may act in “typically masculine” ways and still be female, and the reverse is true as well (Do not rely on gender roles. EVER. They are one of humanity’s worst inventions.). And then there’s the difference between gender and sexuality. Gender is the gender of the person. Sexuality relates to the gender of the person they are attracted to. Don’t assume they are interrelated in any way.
- Treat them the same. They didn’t become a three-armed monster bent on destroying the world when they told you about their gender. They didn’t change who they were, either. They just let you get to know them better. Same person = same treatment, outside of respecting pronouns.
It’s as simple as that.
If you wonder why this is so important, read this survey’s results.
If you wonder how I came up with this specific method, it is an aggregate of the best reactions I’ve had, the best reactions a number of people I’ve surveyed have had, and this post.