"No," John says, voice flat.
Everyone turns their heads to stare at her, for the first time since this whole thing began not trying to hide it, not averting their eyes again quickly.
"I- what?" Rodney chokes, sounding completely baffled, uncomprehending.
"You heard me."
Ronon's eyes are wide in surprise, but he's starting to understand; the first of them all, he's starting to understand. The others don't, not yet.
"John," Teyla says in her reasonable voice, the one she uses when natives are starting to make noise about laws broken and crimes committed, and when she's trying to prevent a crisis. "You do not wish to change this?" 'This' apparently means his 'condition' – that's the word Carson used not thirty minutes ago, talking in a hushed voice with Elizabeth, as if her unfortunate case of abrupt femaleness has made her half-deaf, as if all of a sudden, her medical status is not confidential anymore. As if she's made of glass now, and she knows she will have to get used to this; it will be months until everyone on Atlantis gets used to her, years until those on Earth will.
The hum of the city around her feels the same.
"But you're not-" Lorne starts, then stops abruptly, blushing and looking away.
John opens her pants and shoves her hand down them, and she's making a scene – again – but she doesn't care. For the first time in her life, she doesn't care that she's on display; for the first time in her life, she is comfortable.
"Oh really?", she asks, eyes wide, voice mockingly innocent and astounded. She pulls her fingers out of her panties and stares at her empty hand. "Weird," she says. Years of watching Rodney have made her very adept at mocking people, and she hates that she needs to. Enjoys it.
Then she looks up and gives Lorne a look so cold, he flinches. "So you're saying that my being a woman now makes me unsuitable for this position? Why don't we go and take this up to Elizabeth right now?"
Lorne stutters, and maybe he just forgets in his haste to get away, but John will always remember that he doesn't apologise.
They order her to earth for discussion. She goes in mentally armed to the teeth.
"If you try to take my position, I will file a lawsuit for discrimination," John says, voice flat. There are other words she could use, like transphobia, transprejudice or the related homophobia and sexual prejudice; if she has to, she will cite Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She knows it by heart.
She also knows that Samantha Carter is waiting outside and took great care to make everyone see. And she knows hat Carter would go ballistic, and that everyone knows.
John has a list in her head of all females she has ever served with in combat, of all females who serve under her in Atlantis, and she will drag them all into this. She doesn't care if they agree or not. She doesn't care about the confidentiality agreement, and whether they will charge her for that. If she has to go down, she will do so screaming and kicking and in a burst of flame so hot it will scorch everyone who's holding her down.
John fights Teal'C and his staff with two sticks like Teyla's, and they end after two hours in a draw. Teal'C bows his head and says he's honoured, and she does the same. They both pretend they don't see the massive audience they have drawn, and John goes into the women's changing rooms.
After that, people are a lot less obvious.
John gets in the first soldier's face who says, loud enough for her to hear, "I thought she fought to wear dresses, so why isn't she wearing them?"
She says, "What I fought for, soldier, is my right to be whomever I want to be without having it affect my position." She stares him down until he backs off, uncaring for the audience they have drawn, the silence that reins as everyone strains to hear her speak. "It's none of your business whether I wear dresses or not. But I have the right to wear them, and I won't let anybody take it from me."
The soldier apologises, pale and highly uncomfortable. He's just a boy.
When she gets back, Teyla puts their foreheads together and smiles.
It takes her weeks to recognise the stuttering, fumbling, babbling act Rodney is pulling. It always takes her long to notice these things, because on a deeply subconscious level, she doesn't expect women to be sexually attracted to her, and in a very similar way, she doesn't expect men to be attracted to her either. She only notices because it's familiar, and because she off-handedly thinks so that's what Katie felt like when talking to him, and it's like an instant epiphany.
Their next car race date, she wears a dress and her combat boots, and Rodney keeps staring at her knees.
She feels powerful, for the first time in her life; not just able and skilled, but powerful, under control.
Her father writes her an email. "Will you change your name? For my testament." That is all.
She writes back, "Why am I in your testament?"
He replies, "Because you're my daughter."
John cries. For the first time since she got right, she cries. Rodney's hand flutters from her shoulder to the small of her back and up again, and then he offers her to take her to explode some stuff.
People stop staring after a while.