I was way too young to know how old I was when I knew. For as long as i can remember, I knew I wasn’t put together right. Of course, I had no words or context that could help me understand what was “wrong”, until some years later. I was caught and shamed frequently by my parents for wearing my sister’s clothes, and that drove me deep underground, and I internalized their rejection as being a “badness” within my character.
It was not until my late teens when I heard about Virginia Prince and Christine Jorgensen, and I began to understand the situation. Of course, adolescence led to sexualizing the dressing up, and brief bouts of pleasure followed by guilt and shame. About age 30, I began to explore my real self in Northern California and the Bay area. Hormone treatment was rare and extremely expensive; not an option at the time.
After some years of this, followed by almost 2 decades of increasing addiction issues, I moved to my current location in Oklahoma. I put aside all TG activities when I met my SO and raised a wonderful family. I was happy to do so, but also was conflicted because I knew I was not being my true self. Still, I kept my commitment with her and in hindsight, I am glad I did.
When she was stricken with terminal cancer, she was wonderful enough to let me know that she knew I was not completely happy, and that she expected me to live the life I needed to live. I slowly began to, but respected her wish not to be part of it. Now, I am on the way home to the life I should have been born into.
So in answer to the main question, I have always known that I am Carly.