I may have asked this question before, but I obviously still don't have a good answer for myself so I'm going to ask it again. If you see someone (for example, at a party) that you suspect is transgendered do you approach them, and if so, how? I'm curious as to repsonses both from people who identify as trans and those who do not.
I have two experiences to relate and then, below the fold, I'll attempt to put up a poll (I tried this earlier and it failed, so I'm not yet sure if it works). [UPDATE: Poll still does not seem to be working; I'll keep trying; in the meantime, please just comment]
A couple of years ago I attended a dinner for the Transgendered American Veterans Association (TAVA). At that dinner I sat with my friend Jamison Green and his wife, Heidi. James had introduced me to Heidi a couple of years earlier at another trans convention (Southern Comfort) when they were engaged. She and I hit it off immediately, we had so much in common. She is my height and build, we both have accounting/finance backgrounds and worked in big companies before moving to smaller ones, we both went back later in life to get our MBAs, and we were both about the same age. During the dinner, I asked how her family had reacted to her transition. She asked me if I meant James' transition. No, I was curious about hers. She smiled and said "Denise, I'm not trans." I was mortified. She thought it was great and actually told me that she took it as a compliment. (James also published this story so I know I'm not sharing anything I'm not supposed to)
Last night, at the SLDN annual dinner (wow! I got invited to join one of the board members at her table in the front row. It was most excellent; we sat next to Betty (who performed three songs including their song for the L Word) and right in front of the stage -- which considering there were 650 people there was way cool) I met a couple and I believed that one of them might be FTM. She had a crew cut and was wearing a man's shirt and either had very small breasts or (I thought possibly) had them bound. I eventually just asked if she was trans. I'm sure you can guess by my use of pronouns that the answer was 'no'. "I'm all girl", she smiled at me. Then she told me a story about how her grandma told her that she couldn't be a little boy all her life and she smiled and said "she was wrong; here I am 25 and am still a little boy".
So, finally, here is my question. How do you approach someone who you think may be transgendered? Or, do you not? Just let them have their own space? Perhaps the best answer would be to just strike up a conversation and somehow let it be known that I'm trans and see if that gives them space to come out? Is the fear of offending someone really just internalized transphobia? ::sigh:: This hurts my brain. Comment, please. :)