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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.

--Rogan

*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?

--Rogan

PS: have I said something wrong? Think my logic needs restructuring? Question me!
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:iconx-project-mage-x:
X-Project-Mage-X Featured By Owner May 14, 2015
Thanks ;; 
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:iconrosadellanotte:
rosadellanotte Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I totally agree with you. If you don't feel right with your biologically assigned gender, you're trans. But, I have to disagree with your opinion that there are no fake transgenders. To me, that's the kind of person that's just saying they're trans because they want to be cool, and they feel no gender dysphoria. There are no fake transgenders, however, that actually do feel wrong in their biological gender, like I said. This was very well worded. Thank you for writing this, BaaingTree. I recently figured out I'm genderfluid, kind of more male than female, so I'm trying to figure out how everyone will take this if I tell them. I have also struggled with my sexuality for a few years, finally discovering I'm bi. This does tie in, wait a second. It seems like I'm attracted to everyone, basically, so I was trying to figure out how comfortable I was with trans people, to see if I might actually be pan. I found how there are so many different genders than just female, male, trans FTM and trans MTF. That's when I questioned my own gender, and found I'm obviously genderfluid. Again, this is written well, and it seems like no one really gets how complex gender is.
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:iconakatsukiloverxdx3:
AkatsukiLoverXDX3 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2014  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...
....But...
...That somehow makes me "not a man" in their eyes.
.......
....Up theirs. :3
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:iconmadsheepking:
MadSheepKing Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
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..
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:iconcatkerasumae:
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
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:iconwhyita:
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...
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:iconasrath:
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.
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:iconccfirebloom:
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.
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:iconplaid-monster:
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.
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:iconjessietheartist:
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. :)
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:iconflarethefox3:
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!
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:iconskye-rhyder:
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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:icongartergrrl:
GarterGrrl Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
this was great. ive been wondering what i am... trans? genderqueer? wtf? sometimes i love dressing like a girl, acting all girly and flirty, and feeling pretty and my girl loves it when i do. and sometimes i like being the rugged guy i am and wearing the clothes im used to. it makes me a bit nervous because i just discovered i am trans earlier this year, after always being that "rugged guy" but it is just so much fun! still, im trans and thats all theres to it. the best of both worlds... im happy being a boygirl. =)
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:icongartergrrl:
GarterGrrl Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012
this was great. ive been wondering what i am... trans? genderqueer? wtf? sometimes i love dressing like a girl, acting all girly and flirty, and feeling pretty and my girl loves it when i do. and sometimes i like being the rugged guy i am and wearing the clothes im used to. it makes me a bit nervous because i just discovered i am trans earlier this year, after always being that "rugged guy" but it is just so much fun! still, im trans and thats all theres to it. the best of both worlds... im happy being a boygirl. =)
Reply
:iconkankurounokugutsu:
KankurouNoKugutsu Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2011
This makes me happy. I'm definitely still in the "figuring it out" stage. Just... thanks for this.
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:iconponyverse:
Ponyverse Featured By Owner May 30, 2011   Photographer
This is an excellent essay and I agree with it so much.

I am a bisexual FtM and I've gotten the "you like men too? WHY ARE YOU TRANS THEN!? UR DOIN' IT RONG!!!!!" from my own therapist.
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:iconmellyjellybean:
mellyjellybean Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2011
very helpful to me thanks so much.....i was sam now i'm mel needed something like this to keep my head straight :D
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
No problem. I think we all need that sometimes.

--Rogan
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:iconpaigeagnsthemachine:
paigeagnsthemachine Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2011
Words can't describe how much I love this.
I have been questioning my gender identity a lot over the past year or two and it has been making me very confused and insecure because I felt as though there is not one label that I believed defined me correctly. But every single word in this essay is exactly what I needed to hear. Now I feel more comfortable identifying as trans and I thank you for that. :)
-Paige
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2011
No problem! I'm glad it helped you. Gender can be a tricky, slippery thing, and a lot of people have a lot invested in it. But it can still be questioned and played with, and really, I think it should!

--Rogan
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:iconapheline:
Apheline Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I totally agree with everything you say here ^^
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:iconstupidfae:
StupidFae Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011
If sexual attraction and gender identity are different, then what would a fetish for cross-dressing have to do with it? :confused:
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
Not a clue. All I know is that for some people, if you're trans and wear the "wrong" clothes, suddenly you're a fakity fake fake who fakes.

Because everyone knows that if a man puts on a dress, they become a woman.

--Rogan
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:iconstupidfae:
StupidFae Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
People are strange.
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:iconam3ra:
AM3RA Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I think you hit the nail pretty well. But I feel all icky inside when my dad mentions that I'm a girl and that I should be in love with dresses, skirts, shorts, and all of this girly crap.. The only reason why I "play" along with him is because I can't even bring myself to tell him I'm bi-sexual, more on the lesbian side. I don't like sports, I rather play video games. I don't fit the "list of guy stuff", but I feel a LOT more comfortable around my guy friends and can actually talk to them because I feel like I am one of them. With my female friends I shudder because they talk about guys and I'm not really into them, and they talk about purfume and make-up.. The only make-up I wear is eyeliner and mascara, rarely eyeshadow, but that's it and I use Axe because it actually smells better than purfume, but that is my opinion. So I slightly concider myself trans. But like you said, people change over time and I'm still young so I have time to fully grow into my trueself. Very good job here. :)
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:iconfunchicky:
funchicky Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011
thanks for telling people how it really is ^^
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:iconandgreenmyo-os:
andgreenmyo-os Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011
This is BEAUTIFUL. I really needed to read something like this today, (being as I am a very PMS-y FtM right now -_-) and it really made me feel better. Thank you SO MUCH for posting it. :hug: You are awesome for being so damn wise about stuff. I am gonna watch your account and llama you for this. Seriously. :D

Thanks again!!! :heart:
- Siegfried
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
Heh, no problem. And I wasn't feeling wise, just bitchy and angry about stupid people saying stupid things. I figured there's enough bullshit in the world, why add to it?

--Rogan
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:iconandgreenmyo-os:
andgreenmyo-os Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2011
Well, you make a bloody good point. :) I wish more people were that brilliant while bitchy and angry. XD
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2011
Enh, if I write, it can sometimes come out properly. If I do it before letting myself cool down, it just comes out "ARGH NO STUPID DIE I NO LISTEN WAUGH!"

--Rogan
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:iconandgreenmyo-os:
andgreenmyo-os Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2011
Yeah, that is pretty much what happens to me if I don't take a breather before writing. That's why I tend to write so much poetry after I've been drinking. :XD: Then it just comes out sad and angst-ridden, lol.
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:iconotakuboynogirl666:
OtakuBoyNoGirl666 Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Completely and utterly true *~*
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:iconoyishi:
Oyishi Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011
This is awesome!
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:iconharpsiccord:
Harpsiccord Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This makes me feel better.
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:iconmynock2:
Mynock2 Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011
Very awesome! Thanks for sharing this. I'm one of those folks who's worrying about whether I am or not, and it's good to hear stuff like this.
Reply
:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
Yup. Try not to worry about it; it'll sort itself out eventually, or it won't, and all of that is a-okay.

--Rogan
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:iconirapandstuff:
irapandstuff Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011
Success on your part for writing this. My mother doesn't believe that I'm trans because I haven't felt like I've always known I'm transgender. In fact, when I was small and asked what a transsexual was, she told me they were people with a mental illness and they had doctors chop off their penises, so I didn't exactly have any good information to go off until I was like 13, but she doesn't seem to figure that into her calculations. People need to read this guide you have here.
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
Enh. As far as we can tell, we didn't feel at all genderwrong until we hit puberty. :shrug: People change.

And you're doing better than us. We didn't know the concept of a trans guy existed until we were sixteen or seventeen--and only because of one page and a half of a comic.

--Rogan
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:iconchameleons-breath:
chameleons-breath Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011   Writer
THIS. yes please. i want to wear my twin sisters ridiculous lolita clothes and still be a guy. i want to tamp down my breasts or show them off, and still be a guy. i want to be feminine, and i want to cross-dress, and i want to still be a guy, in spite of (because of) that.
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011
And I want to wear a leopard-print mini skirt with fishnet tights and do boylesque! :D Doesn't make me any less manly!

--Mac
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:iconchameleons-breath:
chameleons-breath Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011   Writer
'boylesque'? that is glorious. hahaha...

i've got 'brolita'.

and i know you're definitely really really manly. hahaha~

[
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
*flexes and sashays*

--Mac
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:iconchameleons-breath:
chameleons-breath Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011   Writer
you're amazing. i just wanted you to know that.

{two}
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:iconsircalistine:
SirCalistine Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011
I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head. The only thing you need to be male is to feel that you are one, and vice versa. All of the expression, surgery choices etcs are secondary.
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:iconbaaingtree:
BaaingTree Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011
Bingo! A plus! :thumbsup: In some religions, it's called "Unverifiable Personal Gnosis..."

--Rogan
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