Ah, okay. I’m going to start this by saying that I am not an authority or an expert. I’m still learning myself (and I AM a trans person). And like, I can’t say “this is the right way” because every trans person is an individual, just like every cis person is. But the biggest thing, I think, is empathy. And, at the risk of sounding cheesy, love.
If you don’t want to read my whole blathering, here’s a really good resource on "Writing the Other."
Meeting some trans people would be a help. Like a big one. The biggest one. Listening to them/us. Researching, yeah, but with things like gender and identity you can’t just rely on textbooks or academics (most of which are pretty fucked up in getting facts right anyway). Talk to a bunch. Keep quiet and listen. Don’t speak over. Read their blogs, there are tons and tons on tumblr alone. Have a healthy sense of empathy, openness, and desire to understand.
(Seriously, with the interwebs, there’s a wealth of instant information. If you can access Google, you don’t really have an excuse for not learning.)
Your first step here is going to be researching. All of the above. Doing it with openness and love, listening, and acknowledging that you are going to make mistakes, and that you will learn from them.
And if you’re lucky enough to have a trans person in your life awesome enough to look over what you’ve written, do that. (Lucky me, a bunch of my dearest lovelies are trans as well, and they’ve helped me immeasurably.) But this is not their responsibility to teach. It’s your responsibility to learn. If they offer help, accept it gratefully, but if they don’t want to or feel comfortable, do not push it.
As I said before, I’m not an authority, nor am I immune from messing up. I am a female-assigned-at-birth nonbinary person, and as such I have a passing and basic existence privilege in the trans world that defies description, it’s ridiculous. Because of that, I’m not going to be able to understand someone male-assigned’s experience. If I want to write a character like me (and I will), a female-assigned enby (nonbinary personthing), I’ve got a pretty good idea! But a trans woman’s experience will be extremely different from mine, and she will wade through so much more crap than I can ever imagine. So when I write a trans lady character (as there is one in CM), the best I can do is present her as respectfully as I can, and hope I can write her as the amazing woman she is.
And when I fuck up - yeah, let’s be honest, when I fuck up, because everybody fucks up sometimes, the sheer amount of cissexist bullshit we’ve been ingrained with is mindboggling and unless you actively try to unlearn this crap, you will keep thinking in the same godawful, hurtful way you’ve been taught. When I fuck up, if I am called out on it (as I expect I will and should be), I will listen. And do better next time. And you do the same.
You’ll mess up. It’s kind of unavoidable. When you do, listen with an open mind and heart, and pick love. When you interact with trans bloggers or friends you make, pick love, and listen to them.
Write all your characters with love. If they’re trans or another marginalized group, maybe give them some extra love they don’t get in real life.
This was an almighty ramble, I’m sorry. It’s something I think a lot about, and this was the first time I’ve actually laid it out in words. I hope it helped at all.
(And as always, followers, if I’ve said something gross or off-point, let me know and I will fix that crap so fast.)