I was thinking about various issues around transsexuality a few months back, and a question occurred to me. This is a question that I suspect most trans people have been asked, so although those of you who are trans are welcome to respond, my asking here isn't aimed at y'all; it's aimed at my non-trans readers.
The question is:
If you consider yourself to be a man, how do you personally know you're a man? If you consider yourself to be a woman, how do you personally know you're a woman?
To put it another way, how do you know your own gender?
I suspect some of you will be inclined to say "well, I can look at my body and it's obvious" or "once a month it becomes pretty damn clear." If that's really the entire and true answer for you, I definitely want to hear that. But I suspect there's more to it than that for most people. I suspect most of us have a deeply ingrained sense of gender identity--that we believe ourselves to belong to a particular gender--and I'm very interested in hearing what, if anything (or things) in particular, causes us to believe that. And for those who don't have a strong sense of being gendered, or who have multiple or varying senses of being gendered, I of course want to hear about that as well.
I can think of a variety of possible general theoretical answers; I'm most interested in hearing people's specific personal answers. (But y'all can also give theoretical or general answers if you want to.)
This question is not meant to attack anyone; it's meant to provoke thought and (civil) discussion, and to help me think about it, because for me it's a tough question.