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March 13, 2011
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I see these questions sometimes, about "how can you be sure you're trans?" I see the sentiment often in articles that claim to "question" transsexuality, from well-meaning but pain-in-the-ass bystanders, and so on.  A lot of it gives me a migraine the size of a T-Rex behind my right eye, so I thought I might help clear up some of the confusion.

There is only one way to "know" you're trans.  And that's because you feel you are.  Does this answer seem vague to you?  It should, because it is.  As much as others would like to tell you otherwise, there is no "test" for being trans.  There is no criteria that if you check enough boxes, congratulations, you're transgendered.  I ID very strongly as trans, but I fail nearly every single criteria required for Aetna's insurance coverage of trans care.  In Aetna's eyes, I'm not a "true transsexual," but here's the thing: that makes me no less trans.

For some people, it is comforting to think that there's a trans test out there, that everyone who passes are trans, and the rest are just fakers, but unfortunately, humans don't work that way.  If you fit into the simple boxes, congratulations, but if you don't, that's okay.

It can be frightening to think that the only way to know you're trans is to feel that way.  After all, what if you're not sure?  How can you be sure it's not just a phase, or something else going on with you?  People change, after all.  To that, all I can say is: know thyself.  Figure out your reasons for why you feel trans.  Does a certain word or pronoun feel "right"?  Is it the way your body feels to you?  Is it about gender roles?

It's okay not to know.  Really.  It is.  Take as long as you need to figure things out.  I encourage you to think about it, and think about yourself.  I knew something was weird, gender-wise for... jeesh.  Seven years?  Something like that.  It took me that long just to get my gender identity sorted out, and it was another one or two years after that before I felt comfortable identifying as trans.  There is no hurry, no deadline, no day that will suddenly pass and too late!  Your gender is now set forever!  Take your time.

Also, your gender identity can change.  That too is completely okay.  Humans are versatile, adaptable little things, much more flexible than many people give them credit for.  It doesn't make any identity of yours less real.

So, to make it all very clear now:

You can be queer and still be trans.  Queer trans people exist; I'm one of them!  So do straight trans people; I know some of them too.  You can be gay, straight, bi, pan*, ace,** all of the above, or none of the above!  Trans people come in all sorts of sexual orientations.

You can be gender-role nonconforming (a femme guy, or a butch girl) and still be trans.  You can also be gender-role nonconforming and still be totally, utterly, completely cis.*** I know cis boys who like heels and skirts, and I know trans boys who like heels and skirts.  I know cis girls and trans girls who're tomboys.  Again, all of these things are totally okay.

You can feel completely okay with your body exactly the way it is now, and you can still be trans.  There is no medical procedure checklist requirement.  There are trans people who want every medical procedure under the sun, there are trans people who want maybe one thing and not another, and there are trans people who want nothing to do with doctors.  It might be a money thing, a health condition thing, or just plain "no thank you" thing.  All of them are equally okay.

As far as body shapes go, trans people come in all shapes and sizes.  There are trans people with square jaws and big muscles, and trans people with curvy hips and full lips--and some have all!  There are also cis people with these things.  None of it should be an indication of "how trans" or "how cis" you are.  If people call you the wrong thing on the street, well, that sucks, but that doesn't make it true.  If people call you the correct thing on the street, that's great!  Congratulations!  But that doesn't make you better or "more trans" than anyone else.

You can be a mother without being a woman.  You can be a father without being a man.  Wanting to be a parent and be called a certain thing doesn't mean your gender identity is a lie.  It just means that you want to raise your child or have them in a certain way.  And if you're a trans man who wants to be a father, or a trans woman who wants to be a mother, or a trans person who wants to be a parent, you can be that too!  All combos are totally okay!

Trans people and cis people come in all sorts of amazing, diverse forms, and all of them are okay.

You might be trans, or you might not.  You may know immediately, need some time, or maybe never know for sure.  And you know what?  All of those things are okay.  Just do the best that you can, and try to get to know yourself as best you can, and you'll probably be just fine.


*pan = pansexual
**ace = asexual
***'cis' means 'not transgendered'
I see a lot of folks worrying about whether they're trans or not, and I see even MORE folks who seem to be far too concerned about making sure someone is "truly" trans. These things tend to make me sad, and/or pissed off.

I personally don't believe in the concept of "trans trender," or fakers, or "butch flight," or any of the other things people call people who identify as trans, but for some reason or other "don't count." Do some people ID as trans and later change their minds, or do so with the idea of misleading people? Sure. But although I'm a super-duper awesome human being, I can't read minds yet. And I prefer to simply presume that someone is who they say they are. It's basic human decency.

I mean, after all. In the popular culture, I'm already considered a mentally ill, perverted freak. What do I have to get uppity about?


PS: have I said something wrong? Think my logic needs restructuring? Question me!
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AkatsukiLoverXDX3 Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Professional General Artist
I don't like how I can't be a transman who has....a guilty pleasure of being feminine every so often. It's not something someone can force out of me; and it's something I personally find empowering in privet...
...That somehow makes me "not a man" in their eyes.
....Up theirs. :3
MadMisterSheep Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014  Student Writer
I've identified as neutrois and recently came out to my father as such, but upon closer inspection of myself and with the aid of this wonderful piece, I know I'm FtM. Now, how to explain to him that gender is flexible..
catkerasumae Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Student General Artist
i'm so sick and tired of people telling me i'm not trans because i dress in drag, its just ridiculous
Whyita Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This was great. Really helped me clear my head about who I am :) I wanted to see a doctor to know for sure, but this made me realize that I don't have to see anyone. I just am suspicious that I'm kidding myself cuz I don't like crossdressing and only just started thinking I was trans like 6 months ago...
Asrath Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2013  Student General Artist
I agree with you, I do meet some 'typical' trans criteria, but also many, many not. Which really set me off at first, left me wondering "What the HECK am I then?"
I tried adapting the way I spoke, the way I wrote, etc. just to appear more 'male' and more 'genuinely trans'. It made me feel horrible. Even worse than behaving as a 'girl'. It made me feel like I was faking, denying and betraying myself. But now I've accepted myself as a man, a transguy, who is 'just not the ordinary' and decided to stay myself for the rest, I feel a lot happier and more 'in tune', if you get me.

Thanks for writing this! :) And I completely agree.
ccfirebloom Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Student General Artist
I now realize I'm trans, ftm, I thought about it and I change so much over time I've gone from tomboy to girly girl with I was in denial because I was trying myself within my sex but not my gender. My parents tell me it's just a phase, I'm bisexual, and I'm still called 'she' and 'daughter' today and everytime I hear that my heart sinks but I used to think to myself "It's just a phase." Now I know deep down it's not.
plaid-monster Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
This helps a lot too. I still question myself and ask myself if I "really am" transgender (ftm), because I feel that way, but I'm attracted to men and would never want bottom surgery and my family wouldn't accept me. I realize that sexuality and bottom surgery have almost nothing to do with whether or not you're trans, but it's still hard to think about/deal with when you're as confused as I am.
JessieTheArtist Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012
True words my friends. My mother knew that I was different but she didn't want to accept the fact her son is trap in a woman's body. All my life I knew I was different. I wanted to be like my father, to build some muscles and fascial hair. Im hoping once my money is right, I'll be able to live my life happy as a man. :)
FlareTheFox3 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This helped me a bit because I am having a REALLY hard time figuring myself out and I don't want to tell my parents because I'm afraid they'll reject me. I already told them I like girls and my mom doesn't fully support me on that because she doesn't want to have a " lesbian daughter". I just don't know what to dooooooooo!
Skye-Rhyder Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012
:Reads Aetna: So if you don't notice anything until P, you're nottrue enough? :wtf: Go to Hell! Maybe I'm not a full surgery candidate, not the flying leap type anyway, but I do not wish to be perceived as a woman and I want help, not some disorganization or bogus test telling me I'm not properly polarized. Finger length\shape is determined BY heredity, not a determination OF gender, sexuality, or personality.

There are plenty natural born, heterosexual, perfectly content womyn who get exited at the thought of wearing hyper feminine\formal\fancy clothes, how is that a deal breaker?

Imma stop before I say something we both will regret.

I think, if I had been born a boy, I would be a drag queen. I love pretty, frilly dresses and high heels, the higher the better, and sparkly makeup, I like being treated as a lady; but I don't want to live that way permanently.
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