the dichotomy of gender is a falsehood! there is a wide range of identities between male and female, and it is not always physically apparent how a person identifies. the best thing to do is ask. noone will ever get angry if you ask them what pronoun they prefer when you are speaking to or of them. the most i have ever seen happen is someone who is cis-gendered not understand why you are asking such a question, which is an open opportunity to educate them on gender variations.
working with trans youth showed me alot about how trans ppl are treated and how ppl use pronouns and binary gender identities as weapons. i cannot even count how many times a trans kid or trans-ally would come up to me and tell me there is a kid at their school who refuses to use the chosen pronouns for that person. what do we do? i would talk to them and tell them it is best to take a breath or seven, calm yourself then try to educate that person. it is the best thing to do. most of the time that worked. but there are always assholes out there ready to use words as knives. “what do we do? we talked to him and told him that this person identifies as male and they refuse to call him by male pronouns! it is really mean!” this may not be the best option but it is the only one we could think of….call the person by their opposite pronoun and only use opposite gender names when referring to the person. so if the person who was being an ass was male only use she and her as pronouns and if their name is micheal only use the feminine version of the name micheala. they should know that it is the exact same thing!
the problems become alot bigger when it is adults in the lives of transkids who are disrespecting them. parents, teachers, school staff, ppl at church, etc. this was especially painful for the kid. they were usually powerless bc in that situation the adult usually wields all the power anyway. that is when i would step in. i would sit down w the adult in question and explain to them what being trans or gender queer was, how they are being demoralizing and how painful it was for the person on the receiving end of their ignorance. for the most part, they listened. there were many times they just could not wrap their heads around it but they would use appropriate pronouns, anyway, especially for the transkids.
being gender queer, third gendered is very hard for ppl to accept. how can a person not feel male or female? how can they feel both? how can they not want to identify as either one? what the hell is going on here? i always encourage ppl to talk about this w the person who identifies as gender queer or third gendered. as long as you are being nice and respectful and truly wanting to understand most ppl want to help you! and it is different for every single person out there!
just talk to ppl. just ask questions. just tell them where you are getting confused. it is healthy. and it is so much better than alienating large majority of individuals bc they don’t fit into your misconceptions of what is boy and what is girl.