The more I look at the world of the strongly-gender-binaried, the more I realize how ever-loving miserable I would be in that world. I can put on various sorts of drag for the workplace and all, but if I had to live there, I'd go mad. Not having to live there, I can be OK with my body, as it does not actually doom me to take on the Western Feminine Role full-time. I was not raised in it; I do not have to knuckle under to it in my heart.
I start to suspect that if I had to pick one, I'd be more "guy" or "dude" (I rather like "dude", actually) than "gal" or "chick". (It used to be chick/cat, did it not?)
I am not/cannot be/never have been/never will be a "lady". I could, however, possibly be a "gentleman"; the phrase "as befits a[n] X and a gentleman" resonates with me the same way the Vorish fealty of hands-between-hands resonates.
... oh dear. So that was BJ's major malfunction, the one that made us thoroughly and completely and epically unsuited for each other, in addition to his other little fun emotionally and mentally abusive traits. He was forcing the gender binary. He had no frame of reference for someone who just did not subscribe to it. No fucking wonder theladiesloos triggered me so badly. To me, anything that smacks of enforcing a gender binary has a chance of touching on that history of emotional and mental abuse.
This appears to be the gender-binary version of this concept:
"Any girl can use a good string of pearls."
This is how the general concept translates to me:
"Anyone who is interested in putting on Western girl-drag can use a good string of pearls."
I believe that the gender binary being accepted without question and without exception is incredibly toxic, because if I had been raised in more of that environment, I would be incredibly less sane and functional than I am. (People who know me well can laugh here.) For the people who fit it well, I could see how it can be nourishing to them, but never forget the people who don't fit it.
I would rather be a man than a woman in the Western gender-binary world. I would hate being a man in the Western gender-binary world, but I would hate being a woman more. I resent the gender binary, and I loathe it the most fiercely when it tries to encroach into spaces that I consider mine, safe, or at least not actively hostile.
Other than the places where it malfunctions on me, I don't mind my body. I do not mind breasts, I do not mind a clitoris or vagina, I do not mind my speaking voice or facial features. (I do mind my stupid polycystic ovaries and the various malfunctions that come along with those, and have considered leaving my uterus in a convenient ditch somewhere as a result.) Absence of a penis is not a major trauma. I've been elbowed painfully in the nipple; I can do well without the testicles if it hurts like *that*. Even if I were living as a man, I could do without the body modification, because this country and this world don't have Betan-quality reassignment surgery, and like I said above, I don't mind the sex-linked features of the body I have.
Hi, don't mind me, I'm having an epiphany here. I can wear black because I like it and it suits my coloring, not because I'm necessarily a goth (mod was before my time, emo after) because only goth girls wear black. Various forms of pink because ditto, not because they are forced on me but because I like them. I can like blue. I wanted to operate heavy machinery as a toddler. I still think it would be pretty cool. I like computers, not because they are inherently masculine or feminine and I am inherently either, but because they are cool and they are fun and I was raised with them. I like writing. I like observing things and distilling the principles from which they operate through observation and occasional experimentation to see if I'm right. The conclusion that I came to sometime during the epic conversations with boojum about these things was that this thing that I am doing is feminine because I, a female, am doing it.
We talked about butch and femme. I don't mind "on average this is typical; in the individual this varies very widely". I do mind, and vigorously mind, a society that sees personal preferences as either allowable or scandalous deviations from a pre-programmed list of possibilities based on one's bits and whatever social form one is presenting oneself as.
But. There but for the wisdom of my parents go I. I'm not allergic to being called 'she', and prefer female pronouns when I'm not plural, but I might well have been if I'd been subjected to the worst of it at a tender age.