I just came across this example
of a dispute on the internet. From what I can gather, it was between a binary trans woman and a genderless person (among others).
The woman thinks that it's right and good that some clothing (like skirts) should convey that someone is a woman. The genderless person thinks that wearing skirts shouldn't automatically misgender them, but that there's a real impasse there, because skirts can't both gender the woman and not gender the nongendered person. Demanding that certain clothes communicate a certain gender affinity would be requiring people to either misgender themselves or not wear clothes they'd like to wear, which is troubling. (The OP did specifically say that men should be allowed to be feminine, but the genderless person doesn't want to suggest femininity OR female identity, apparently).
Personally, I think that no clothes should be gendered with the exception of those that explicitly convey a gender message
. Examples could be:
A hoodie that says "Southern Girl"
A t-shi[r]t that says "Self-Made Man"
A bracelet with the genderqueer flag on it
A necklace with the Venus symbol for "woman"
That way someone can convey gender identity via clothing, but people without such intentions would rarely have them projected onto them. For me this is kind of an "ideal universe" thing--I don't think there's anything wrong with someone dressing in certain non-explicitly-gendered clothing to convey feminine/masculine/male/female/gender-neutral/bigender/etc, because we live in a world where that is a lingo of sorts. I do think there's something wrong with someone claiming to be friendly to all genders projecting intentions onto someone's outfit without having heard or read the person wearing it explain how they see themself in those clothes--or, worse, trying to police someone's gender expression to supposedly "match" their gender identity.
I think there's also a broader question here of how someone can convey their gender identity without having to think about it and vocalize it to everyone they meet, and I think explicit symbols on clothing is one way, but I also thinking that as society and technology changes we'll have others. For instance, right now it's probably possible for many people at a party to have a conversation like this,
"By the way, I'm Matt, what's your name?"
"Cool name. Would you like being friends on Facebook?" Takes out smartphone
"Oh, yeah, I'm <full facebook name>."
"I'm adding you right now."
And having done so Matt has just gained access to a profile of Tyr that conveys whatever Tyr's gender identity is, and maybe in the future or on other social networks, an accurate description of Tyr's preferred pronouns.
I also think that in a world where gender binarist assumptions are broken down, people will be a lot more comfortable asking about each other's gender/pronouns, because everyone will know that you can't tell anyone's
gender by looking at them. Right now some gender normative binary trans people might think it's fine just for skirt = woman rather than broad shoulders = man, or whatever misgendering reasoning is applied to them, but there's a whole
lot of people of all identities that that leaves out. (I don't know that anyone in the discussion I started this post by referencing holds the position that skirt should = woman, please don't misinterpret that I'm responding closely to that thread and not going off on my own tangent.)
In short, I don't think any form of coercive gender is right, and that includes assuming anything that isn't an explicit
statement of gender is a statement of gender. The same way we as humans are learning that there is no implicit, only explicit, consent to sex, there should only be explicit consent to being gendered. Luckily the stakes, while high, aren't quite
as high--I anticipate changing our entire culture around gender is going to take longer than getting people to be careful about not raping anyone.