The Singular “They” Is Grammatically Correct, Dammit

Hello!

I just read your identity pronoun piece on Medium and I would like to converse with you about a few questions I have.

My child is currently identifying as non-binary. My only issue is from a grammar stand point. I struggle with referring to an individual in a plural way due to years of grammar education. I truly feel that I (and possibly others) may catch on quicker if it didn’t seem like we were being incorrect with the grammar by being correct in addressing the person.

I truly ask this with an open heart and mind. Do you think due to the creation of the subset — or acknowledgement as it were- that it may be easier for those outside the set to be mindful and those in the set to become recognized?

I look forward to your commentary.

Regards,
Renee’


This is a real email that I received, though I did edit it to be shorter. 

Here is my reply.


Hi Renee’,

I hear ya with the kind intention of this question. You’re not alone in asking it — many, many people do not like the use of the “singular they” as a nonbinary pronoun.

Here are a few resources for you.

Other options for third person pronouns:

Many transgender, gender non-confirming (GNC), and nonbinary folks in the US have been using pronouns aside from he or she for decades. Ze, hir, zir, xie, ey, and per are just a few that some of my community has used over the years. Here is a table of many of the different third-person gender pronouns used in English.

In GNC communities, people choose which pronoun they feel best fits them and resonates for them. The use of the singular they was always one of many, but it is only recently that it has become widely accepted in the mainstream English speaking / US environment.

Why singular they is okay:

Singular they was declared the word of the year by the American Dialect Society in 2015.

It has been in consistent use as a third person singular pronoun since the 1300s. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Emily Dickinson all use it in their work. The wikipedia entry on it breaks it down quite well. Here is another longer history of the usage of the singular they.

Whether or not you realize it, most people already use the singular they. It is just used more generically, rather than individually. Teen Vogue has a good write-up of the common questions asked about nonbinary pronouns.

Because singular they has been used for so long, it is generally the easiest third person nonbinary pronoun for people to grasp.

Which do you think is easier to say?

  • they went to the store
  • ze went to the store
  • pe went to the store

On changing language:

I get that it’s hard to change the use of something that has always been one way. But language changes all the time. Here’s a list of TED talks that discuss how language is fluid and changes.

Language is solidified by those in power. Those who have been in power have been (are) cisgender people. But language is more of a living thing that both reflects and shapes cultural norms. Changing the language changes the oppression of marginalized people.

Using singular ‘they’ also helps with another major feminist linguistic issue: the way we default to using he/him pronouns as general examples in English. Using they/them solves that problem, and is much less awkward than using “s/he” or “she or he,” and challenges the use of maleness as the norm.

Here are two books for you:

A Quick & Easy Guide to
They/Them Pronouns
The Gender Book


Perhaps this part is the most important:

It takes uncomfortable change to be inclusive and supportive of marginalized people.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable to use the singular they. Yes, it means you will probably mess up as you are getting used to it, and perhaps hurt some people’s feelings, and perhaps have to apologize and learn and do better, and that is uncomfortable. But it is essential to try in order to make a world that can be more welcoming, inclusive, and celebratory of marginalized and oppressed folks.

This is a very clear, very concrete way that nonbinary people are asking to be supportive. Please do it.

Last, but not least:

Please consider doing your own Google research before asking nonbinary people, such as myself, to do research and explain things to you. This has taken an hour of my time that I could be otherwise working for money, being with my friends, or creating my own art.

I decided to do this for you because I am going to use this as my next article and make it public. But next time, please use Google — or a librarian, whose job it is to help you find information! — and educate yourself. There are thousands and thousands of articles, videos, and offerings online that already explain the things you’re asking me.

Things you could Google for additional research:

  • how to use the singular they
  • why use singular they
  • history of singular they
  • is singular they grammatically correct
  • how to be supportive of nonbinary people
  • alternative third person pronouns
  • use of singular they in literature
  • changing language over time

Asking nonbinary people to do work to educate cis people is a form of emotional labor that costs us time, effort, and energy. It is incredibly common for nonbinary people to be asked to educate cis people, and it is exhausting.

Next time you ask for labor like this, at least offer to compensate. I do coach people on gender, sexuality, and relationship issues, and I would be happy to consider coach you further. Contact me if you wish to pursue that.

In conclusion: 

If you agree with me, great. Please share this.

Perhaps you do not agree with me, and you’re one of those people who only uses “cool” to describe temperature. But if you insist on prioritizing grammar rules above honoring nonbinary people, I insist on thinking you’re a jerk.

Sincerely,
Sinclair

Pronouns: they/them

PS: If you appreciate the time I put into this article, please consider supporting me on Patreon or making a PayPal donation to my email address, [email protected]

Dear (Cis) People Who Put Your Pronouns On Your “Hello My Name Is” Name Tag

Dear cis people who put your pronouns on your “hello my name is” name tags:

Thank you.

When you do that, I feel more comfortable putting my pronouns — they/them. I feel more comfortable being visibly out as nonbinary. I feel more comfortable asking people to use the pronouns that feel most like me, that make me feel most seen and whole, instead of just resolving to be mis-gendered and mis-represented and whatever who cares anyway.

(Maybe I do, somewhere, a little.)

When we’re doing the socializing part of whatever event we’re at, and we are introduced, I automatically feel warmer toward you — regardless of your gender or presentation. I feel much more comfortable talking to you, because you already tell me you know a little about gender.

Thank you.

It is an ongoing cultural struggle right now to break our eyes open to more than the two binary gender roles. We are all still learning. Nonbinary and trans folks are still evolving the language and culture, and educators are still figuring out the best ways to communicate the theory and compassion. It’s a challenge to undo the cultural systems that have been normalized all our lives.

And yet, we must. If we want to support everyone to live their best lives, we must. If we want to be honoring of everyone, we must.

Other great places to include your pronouns:

  • Your email signature. Example: “Sinclair Sexsmith¶ Pronouns: they, them, theirs, themself¶ [email protected] | @mrsexsmith | Facebook | Patreon”
  • Social media bio, on Twitter or Facebook or etc. Example: “Writer. White non-binary butch feminist dominant. They/them.” You could also periodically put a post up on your social media, “Just for the record, I use they/them pronouns. Also, I grew up in Alaska, my favorite flower is red gerbera daisies and my favorite number is 12.”
  • Regular bio, if you’re a performer, writer, teacher of some sort and you have a bio you send around, include them there! Example: “Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is a writer and queer nonbinary butch dominant.”
  • Introductions at a meeting or workshop, if they say “Go around & say your names.” They don’t have to invite you to include your pronoun in your intro in order to include it! Example: “I’m Sinclair, I use they/them pronouns.”
  • Any time you’re speaking in front of a group! Example: “Hi! I’m excited to have you at this poetry reading today, thanks for coming to the Bluestockings Bookstore. I’m Sinclair, I use they/them pronouns — but you probably already know that, since you’re here!”
  • Can you think of other places I haven’t listed here? I’m sure there are others. Leave ’em in the comments!

If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, ask!

This is an important skill to cultivate. We have probably all heard this, but there are plenty of times we — all of us, myself included — feel awkward asking, and so we don’t. But it’s never too late — ask at any point during the conversation.

It’s not a faux pas if you have to stop in the middle of a sentence, just ask.

“Sorry, what are your pronouns?”

“Oh I didn’t get your pronouns, what are they?”

“Will you remind me your pronouns please?”

If you mess up, no big deal. We all do.

You’re not a bad person if you mess it up. You’re not a bad ally, or a bad person. You’re practicing. Maybe you got the wrong info, or maybe that person just changed their pronouns.

Just start again.

The #1 thing to remember: don’t make it about you. Apologize, move on, try again.

“The other day, she — “
“They use they pronouns.”
“Oh, they. Okay. The other day, they …”

That thing where people say, “Omigod, I’m SO sorry! I really care about pronouns! I’m trying so hard! I’m not used to it! Forgive me!!!!” — that makes it such a bigger deal than it is. Treat it like mispronouncing someone’s name — it’s a little disrespectful, so be sure to be sensitive, but it’s ultimately no big deal.

Just acknowledge, apologize, have a redo, and do better in the future.

It gets easier with practice & time.

You’ll get it. Keep at it. Practice saying and expressing your pronouns whenever you can. Practice asking. The more cis people can ask and practice with each other, the more of the burden it takes off of trans and nonbinary folks to do the education work themselves.

There’s one more thing I want you to know:

It feels so good when people get it right.

It can make my whole day brighter when I hear someone use they/them pronouns.

Honestly, I rarely hear it myself, because if I’m standing there, it’s the least likely place for someone to refer to me in the third person. But sometimes it happens in an introduction, or a story. And it still surprises me sometimes.

I feel vulnerable, and cared for, and seen.

Review: Sam STP from New York Toy Collective

Yep, it’s pretty much everything you want it to be.

Sam, the new STP from New York Toy Collective, is a cute little fat soft-ish packing dick with a wide opening in the back to press against the wearer’s bits and a hole through the middle so pissing through it is easy. I love how the urethra is a little bit narrow, and squeezing it controls the stream a little bit. I love how short and stubby and chubby it is. I love the design, it sits so easily in underwear.

Details:

100% Platinum Silicone and available in 4 skin tones Cashew, Caramel, Hazelnut, Chocolate, Sam is easy to use and reliable. We suggest wearing Sam in snug underwear like briefs boxer briefs. Sam does not require specialty underwear. As with any stand to pee product- practice makes perfect. Size: Total length: 5 5/8 inches from testes to urethra opening. Girth: 1.5 inch shaft.

There are quite a few STP models out there, and it seems like there are new and better ones released every year now. I love how many queer and trans folks are involved in the production of toys like this! Seems like it wasn’t always that way. But now, the color ranges are bigger, the function is greatly improved.

Sam, like all of New York Toy Collective’s products, is made out of medical grade silicone, body safe and very durable. (I mean, if your dog gets ahold of it I can’t vouch for it. But it’ll stand up to all kinds of wear & tear.)

It’s excellent for STP — standing to pee. It’s easy; with the wide opening, I feel confident that the pee isn’t going to spill out, and I like how squeezing it a little controls the stream. I’ve been keeping this dick in the shower for some convenient golden showers play while I’ve been getting used to using it.

I can’t imagine this would work for any sort of insertion/fucking someone else, since it’s basically hollow and not very stiff, plus I’m not sure how it would work inside a harness. Maybe a little bit? Especially in the underwear-style harnesses, since they’d keep it tucked up against the wearer’s body.

But you know what it is amazing for? Blow jobs. The hole through the middle creates some suction, and that can feel veeeeeeery gooooooood. (If you’re into that kind of thing.) (Which I am.) It’s short and kinda stubby but still fat enough that it’s real pretty to watch someone get their mouth around it, and it’s great for some play with force, since it’s not going to actually choke them (very much).

Plus, it lends itself to some great dirty talk: “You want that dick, boy? Get it all nice and hard then. Look, it’s still soft and small. If you want it, you’re going to have to make it hard. Go on, do it right. You’re not going to get it until you make it big and hard.”

Or, you know, whatever works for you.

Conclusion: This is a really fun and versatile toy with many uses. NYTC makes some of the best silicone dicks on the market, and so of course their STP is extremely high quality as well. It’s a fantastic addition to the NYTC family of toys. I’ve already used it often, and it’s easily earned a space in my frequently-used-dicks-drawer.

Use code SUGARBUTCH on the New York Toy Collective website for $5 off!

This toy was sent to me from New York Toy Collective in exchange for an honest review. Pick up SAM at your local feminist queer-positive women-positive kink-positive sex toy shop. Don’t know where your closest one is? Check out this map.

The Tender Sweet Young Thing, Guest Post by Xan West

Dedicated to the members of the Church of the Movie Musical

As a heads up, this story includes descriptions of gender play, blade play, edge play, pain play, public sex, cocksucking and fisting.

Dax was raised by a second-wave feminist. Ze grew up reading books about girls who did stuff. Ze was pulled out of tap class because they were going to perform “I Love Being a Girl,” and hir mom refused to let Dax participate in something so sexist. Hir mother gave hir a gender-neutral name (to help hir get jobs) and had hir hair cut in a Buster Brown. For most of hir childhood, people were constantly asking, “Is that a boy or a girl?” They still asked that, actually. At least now ze chose hir own haircuts.

Dax didn’t change hir name when ze went on T. What was the point? Dax would work okay, and it’s not like ze wanted to pass as a man anyway. A gender-neutral name suited hir just fine. Guess mom got something right.

When Dax’s boyfriend Mikey got a ‘96 Volvo with a tape deck, Dax gave her some of hir old cassettes. They would drive around listening to tapes Dax had kept from back in the day. Their favorite was a childhood relic, Free to Be You and Me. They listened to it for probably the thousandth time on the way to a regular gathering of fat queers that involved two of Dax’s favorite things: potluck and watching musicals. That’s probably why Mikey was so quick to bring it up, when the pre-movie dinner discussion turned to early kink fantasies. (Which, let’s face it, was rather inevitable at this monthly event, which was now at Xóchi’s house because it was more accessible. No stairs meant that Dax and Mikey could be there, and that Jericho and Rusty came more often, too. Lee loved hosting, so even though it was now at Xóchi’s house and not her own, she was still in charge. Everything always went smoothly when she was in charge.)

“Want to hear one of Dax’s early kink roots?” Mikey asked, teasing.

Of course the group wanted to hear it. Dax was grateful Mikey was going to tell it, because hir migraine meds were making hir a bit loopy, and ze just wanted to watch the room and relax. It was nice to be back. Nobody did potluck like fat activist queers. The briscuit Rebecca brought was the best comfort food ever, especially with Mikey’s flan for dessert, and ze was looking forward to popcorn and Julie Andrews. Hir chair was comfy, the sun wasn’t in hir eyes, and ze was surrounded by kinky queers. Hey, who was that cute femme boy in the corner? Oh, was that Téo, the boy Mikey had been telling hir about?

“Well, I bet some of you know Free to Be You and Me?” Mikey asked.

Lee and Xóchi both nodded. Dax guessed the other folks were a bit too young to know it. Except Jericho, who looked at Rusty and shrugged, clearly having no clue what they were talking about.

Xóchi said, “Oh, wait. I bet it was that football player singing, ‘It’s Alright to Cry.’”

The whole room chuckled. Dax was well-known for being the kind of sadist that got off on tears. When Xóchi started to sing a bit of it, Lee and Mikey joined in. “It’s alright to cry. It might make you feel better!”

Dax was blushing. Ze reminded hirself that ze loved them. They were family. Family got to tease you. And, really, hadn’t ze crooned just that line to Mikey last month in the middle of a particularly brutal caning?

“No, it wasn’t that one, actually,” Mikey said, grinning at Dax. “You remember the one about the tender sweet young thing?”

Lee and Xóchi both shook their heads.

“Well, it’s about this girl who dresses impeccably, and always goes first in line, and gets basically everything she wants, and then she gets caught by a pack of lions.”

“Tigers!” Dax inserted.

“Oh, sorry, baby. Tigers. So they tie her up and sniff her a bit.” Mikey grinned.

“And she says, ‘I am a tender sweet young thing.’” Dax forgot hirself and got into it. “‘I am also a little lady.’” Dax grinned at Lee, who unconsciously began to adjust her shirt so that her considerable cleavage showed to better advantage.

“And she tells the lions to stop licking her,” Mikey inserted, watching Téo. Damn, the boy was so fucking cute. He had perked up, giving the story his full attention, a mixture of recognition and desire on his face. This confirmed it. Téo was the tender sweet young thing she’d had her eye out for.

“Tigers!” Dax insisted.

“That’s twice,” Lee said, holding up two fingers and looking sternly at Mikey over her turquoise cat eye glasses.

Dax continued, “My favorite part is when she says, ‘Untie me this instant. My dress is getting mussed!’”

The whole group cracked up. Except for Téo, who was holding his breath.

“I’ve had a fashion safe word myself,” said Lee, eyes sparkling.

“So what happens to the tender sweet young thing?” asked Téo before he could stop himself.

“The tigers eat her,” said Dax, eying Téo again. Téo did something halfway between a preen and a squirm under Dax’s gaze. It was adorable. How had ze not noticed him before tonight?

“What?” said Xóchi. “How do I not remember this? They eat her?”

“Yep,” Mikey confirmed.

“And the whole story is told by the head tiger,” Dax added, grinning at Xóchi.

Xóchi grinned back, one predator to another, and then launched into a story of her own that involved her father’s knife. Dax hoped that Téo might share one of his own kink roots, but Lee soon ushered them over to the television for the much awaited showing of Victor/Victoria.

Téo couldn’t stop thinking about the tender sweet young thing. He could barely concentrate on Victor/Victoria, which he hadn’t seen before and was totally up his alley. He’d have to get ahold of it and watch it when he could pay attention.

He let himself work it out, as the others watched. It had been a while since he’d bottomed to a white person, and the last time had been a real mistake. That’s why he had been so careful with Rebecca. Their switchy thing was working out okay. But this was a different thing altogether because he kept thinking about being tied up and surrounded by Dax and hir band of tigers. That was serious bottoming, even from a power femme place.

But he’d been thinking about Dax all night, about that gleam in hir eyes as ze looked him over and told him that the tigers ate the tender sweet young thing. Anyone who could hang in this group was probably okay. Xóchi and Mikey clearly trusted hir. Jericho had made a point of saying that they wanted Dax and Mikey at their party next month, and that was a POC-centered space. I mean, they allowed white folks who acted right, but it was different to be invited special.

It’s not like he hadn’t known Dax for a few years; they’d been in that genderqueer showcase together, after all. He’d just never noticed hir in that way before. He’d been crushed out on Mikey for a while, as their friendship had grown, and been looking for a way to let her know he was interested. And it was clear that the scene he had in mind would mean bottoming to her, too. Yeah, he thought it was worth the risk, especially because he didn’t think he’d have to worry much about disability stuff with this group. Damn, this scene hit so many of his buttons in exactly the right way. Oh, was the movie over already?

It turned out that Rebecca was going home with Jericho and Rusty (which no one was surprised by after the kink root she’d shared about being constantly cast as the prince when she ached to be the evil stepmother instead). She had been Téo’s ride. So Dax and Mikey offered to drive the boy home. He had the cutest tempting blush on those fat cheeks of his when he accepted.

Dax made Mikey put on Free to Be You and Me, and ze watched Téo’s face as he listened to the one about the tender sweet young thing. As the girl described herself, Téo couldn’t resist running his hands through his shiny curls, blue sparkles on his nails picking up the dim light in the car. Oh, he was delicious. When Dax heard him gasp at the end when the tigers ate her, ze met Mikey’s eyes with a grin. Then ze asked Téo what he thought.

“I love the part where the tiger has ‘never seen anything quite like it before,’” he said, awe in his voice.

“Me, too,” said Dax.

“And that ‘tender sweet young thing’ is, like, her gender,” Téo continued.

“Told you he was a smart cookie,” Mikey murmured to Dax. She’d been eyeing Téo for some time. He was just her type: wicked smart, great politics around race and disability, and let’s face it—she had a weakness for sassy femme trans guys. And this one had those curls …

Dax grinned at Mikey. “You called that one.” Ze turned to the blushing boy. “So, Téo … are you a tender sweet young thing?”

“Who, me?” he drawled, winking at hir.

“I thought you might be.” Dax smiled into the boy’s eyes. “I can gather up a few tigers for Jericho’s party next week.”

“I have the perfect dress!” Damn, he was lit up like the Empire State Building.

“I can’t wait to see you in it,” Dax purred.

Mikey grinned at Téo. “I can’t wait to muss it up,” she said. She was already imagining it.

“I was hoping you might,” Téo gave Mikey a wicked smile and blew her a kiss.

***

Dax took hir time gathering the tigers. Mikey, of course. It was basically her idea, after all. Jericho surprised Dax by volunteering both themself and their boy Rusty. They might not be there for the whole scene because they were hosting, but they could be there at the beginning. Lee definitely wanted in, and Téo had agreed. Rebecca grinned wickedly and said she’d love to. Xóchi finally stopped chuckling long enough to say she’d do it, and that her girl would help hold space, fetch water, and have lube and snacks ready.

Negotiations went smoothly, and with this many disabled queers, it was a fucking miracle that there were no opposing access needs. Téo had been the one to bring up race, which meant he felt comfortable enough to raise the issue. Dax knew how important that was. They’d worked out the perfect bondage safe word. It was actually going to happen. Dax couldn’t really believe it.

What a band of tigers Dax had found. Lee honored the event in her turquoise tiger-print top, resplendent with matching glasses and cane. She was gleaming with top energy, regally driving her scooter around the party, grey curls streaming. Xóchi kept it simple in black jeans and her favorite boots. She planned to sit for most of the time, so it was actually possible to wear them, and nothing made her feel more powerful than those boots. Jericho’s bald head gleamed, and they were a gorgeous genderfuck mix of cues from dark lipstick to white button-down shirt and leather bowtie over a neon orange slip. The look was finished with knee-high lineman boots, a bootlicker’s dream, reserved solely for their boy as a reward for his silent service tonight. Their boy Rusty was clean and crisp in an A-line shirt and leather pants that showed off what he was packing. He looked delicious and untouchable all at the same time, a clear indicator of stone butchness if Dax ever saw one. Rebecca had laced a white boa around the handlebars of her scooter and slid her midsized curves into the tightest shortest thing in her closet, complete with fishnets, dramatic purple eyes that matched her glasses, and flats because her fibro had been flaring all week and heels were not fucking possible. Mikey wore a classic shirt and tie, her favorite top gear that she used to draw on a bit of Daddy magic for the scene ahead.

They claimed their space. Jericho wanted to use the scene to get the party started, raise the kind of energy they knew would inspire an electric night for everyone. They wanted to do their part to keep Carter Hall solvent, and a hot group scene can make a party. Having an accessible space was so damn rare even in the Bay, and this was a dream of a space, complete with a full-size sling that was actually rated for supersize folks like Téo. That’s exactly where Dax wanted to put the boy … if he ever showed up.

Xóchi’s girl Lina set up the space around the sling, with banquet chairs ready for folks who wanted to get off their scooters and rest or play while sitting; snacks and glucose tablets for the diabetics who needed a food break; and water, gloves, and lube for everyone. Dax took out the tools ze wanted to use and set them on the chair next to the one ze was sitting on. Ze kept it simple: the claws that an ex had made for hir out of metal guitar picks and a wicked pair of scissors to muss up the boy’s dress with. Ze was ready.

Mikey had finished laying out the electric blue rope she’d picked out to match the boy’s nails. She scanned the party. Where was Téo? He knew that Mikey had limited energy and needed to start early. Why wasn’t he here already?

Queers had started to form a circle around the sling, hoping to get a glimpse of some action, which gave Téo a perfect opportunity. He scooted through the crowd, trilling, “Ladies first! Ladies first!” at the top of his lungs. “Hand over a whole mango, please,” he quipped to Dax, turning to wink at Mikey, who chuckled, recognizing the line immediately.

He did have the perfect dress on, Dax marveled. Candy pink with a white collar that showed off his tempting neck and big white buttons down the front. He had on white knee socks and patent leather Mary Janes, and his curls were adorned with pink ribbons that matched his dress. The boy twirled on his scooter in front of them, showing off bulging white briefs, and Dax was mesmerized. Hir tender sweet young thing was packing!

Soon, Mikey had Téo bound to the sling. Could he look more fetching than when trussed up prettily in blue rope? Dax stood between his legs, hir midsize frame insistent against the boy’s cock. Rusty loomed by Téo’s head. Rebecca chose a seat where she could see his face and reach him with her cane. The rest of the tigers started up their scooters, circling slowly. Every few moments, one of them would poke him with their cane. Their grins were menacing, and the whirring of the motors combined into a purring growl that had Téo a bit more nervous than he had expected to be. He tried to watch them circle, but there were just too many of them. And Rusty seemed so damn huge at his head, standing over him, eyeing his curves. Had he actually signed up for this? What had he been thinking?

Dax waited until the boy was distracted, focused on the circling tigers, before ze pulled on hir claws. The metal gleamed, and ze knew it would make pale scratch marks on the boy’s reddish brown skin. Ze breathed into it, pushing into the floor with hir boots, settling deeper into topspace. The claws felt perfect as they traced along the boy’s neckline. He shivered, and Dax smiled down at him, feeling hir inner predator wake up. Oh, this was going to be fun. Ze gripped Téo’s throat and ground hir cock into his. He went still, trying not to move, all his attention on Dax, as Rusty gripped his hair to hold him steady and whispered in his ear. His eyes were saucers, and his lower lip trembled.

Mikey grinned as she watched Dax get things started. This was one of the best plans she’d had in a long time. She rolled up closer as Dax lifted Téo’s dress to run hir claws along the boy’s thighs. Rusty had the boy’s curls in his fist, and that position gave her a perfect opportunity. She nuzzled Téo’s neck, beckoning to Lee and gesturing to his stomach. Lee slid up to the boy and scent-marked his stomach through his dress, purring.

He was surrounded. He didn’t think it would be so easy to think of them as tigers, but they sure felt like it. Lee pressed her nose into his stomach as Mikey sniffed his neck, grazing her teeth along his skin. The ropes helped him sink into helplessness. There was no getting away from this, and that was exactly what he needed. Had Mikey just told Lee he smelled nice?

Mikey stood and met his eyes, running her hand along his curves, teasing into the collar of his dress, as her other hand held Dax’s both to steady herself and, well, because.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it before,” she drawled, letting the awe show in her eyes. “I wonder what it is?”

Téo knew his line. He’d been waiting for it, to claim this gender that fit so right, in front of queers who actually got it. He swallowed around the fear rising in his throat. “I am a tender … ,” he whispered, then stopped. It turned out it was harder to say than he’d thought.

Mikey met his gaze, gripped his face in her paw, and said, “What was that? Old tigers like me need it a bit louder.”

Dax took the opportunity to spread his thighs with hir claws, and Lee bit down on his stomach. Damn. Rebecca came over to hold his hand. That helped. Jericho came over to their boy and laid their hand on his shoulder. Rusty still hadn’t let go of his curls, but that felt grounding now.

“Looks tender,” said Xóchi, who had pulled up on the other side of his stomach with her knife out, and was tracing it along his collarbone, up toward his face.

Fuck, okay, he said to himself. You can’t talk when you aren’t breathing. You can do this. Let it out. It came out in a whimper, which only made Xóchi grin and press the knife deeper into his skin. Lee was nuzzling his stomach again, and Mikey held him captive in her gaze. Why couldn’t he look away? Why was it so damn hard to say?

Mikey’s eyes were warm and firm all at the same time. Her gaze said, Take your time. We are here. We know it’s hard. We’ve got you.

Dax saw the tears start rolling down those gloriously fat cheeks and knew what ze wanted to do. Hell, ze’d been thinking about it ever since ze saw the boy twirl. Ze pushed up the boy’s dress and worked his cock out of his briefs. Lina had a condom ready. (Damn, that girl was good.) Dax loved to suck boys off as they cried. It was such a fabulously twisted move for a top, and nothing tasted better than the power it gave. The boy went very still as ze worked the condom onto his cock. Ze slid hir tongue along the boy’s cock, watching his face. He was so damn sexy with his mascara running like that, a knife to his throat. Dax dug the claws into his thighs and feasted on Téo’s cock as the boy let go and sunk into fear, and helplessness, and sharp recognition.

It was too much, and he couldn’t keep still anymore, couldn’t stand to have Mikey look at him anymore. Not like that. His hands clenched, and his eyes scrunched up, and he was so damn frustrated that the words emerged without any censoring. “I wish you’d stop licking me!”

They all stilled. Xóchi put away her knife. Lee sat up, pulling her face out of his stomach. Dax raised hir head to look at him and smiled. Mikey came up next to hir and rested her head against Dax’s stomach.

“I got this,” Jericho said. “Me and my boy.”

They all moved to the chairs circling the sling, except for Jericho and Rusty.

Jericho said, “All that surface sensation is just too much, isn’t it? You need something deeper to show you how tender you are. I can do that.”

How did Jericho know that? It was scary how right they were. Deeper was exactly what he needed. He nodded helplessly.

Jericho handed their boy a condom and some lube. They picked up Dax’s scissors, getting a nod from hir, and cut off Téo’s briefs before he even registered what was happening. By then, Jericho had almost finished unstrapping Téo’s cock. They gestured to Rusty and moved around Téo, unbuttoning his dress to bare his chest. Téo loved, and hated, being beaten there. It was about the only kind of touch that felt right in that area, and it was so damn intense because, really, when you’re binding so many hours a day, your skin gets fucking sensitive.

Jericho had taken out their braided cat. Téo adored this toy, and was aching to get beaten with it again. Last time, it’d felt like light was bursting out the top of his head.

It was better than he remembered, probably because he needed deep sensation so much. He closed his eyes and let it drive into him. Sublime intensity concentrated where he needed to let go. Jericho was fucking magic. When Rusty slid into his front hole, it felt so easy and solid. Rusty was holding him steady with his cock, anchoring him here in this room so he didn’t float too far.

Mikey saw the shift before it happened. Jericho signaled to their boy, and Rusty started moving, holding the sling steady, and doing all the work himself, so that Jericho would have a clear target. They drove into the boy at both ends, watching him arc and writhe, and waited for him to scream. It was beautiful. They rode the boy together, building him up in spirals, and Jericho stopped beating him just in time to catch his scream in their mouth in a sweetly vicious kiss.

“Tender yet?” Jericho asked, poking Téo’s chest and grinning when he yelped.

“Yeah,” Téo managed to get out between yelps. Jericho motioned to Mikey and Dax.

“I’ve got host duties. Your turn to muss the boy up a bit.” They smiled down at Téo and tousled his curls. “You sure are sweet,” they murmured and, squeezing his shoulder, walked off on their boy’s arm.

Dax picked up the scissors and teased them against the boy’s cheek. Ze was going to enjoy this, and had been fantasizing about it for a long time.

Mikey slid on a glove, lubing it up. She nipped at the boy’s thigh, watching him squirm. She wanted him writhing on her arm, and soon.

Rebecca got her hand in Téo’s curls, and was doing that twisting-pulling thing that felt like sex. Dax snapped the scissors close to his ear, making him jump. Mikey was doing something slithery and twisty in his front hole. Damn, her paw was big. He wanted it inside him so bad, punching into his cervix with those powerful huge arms. Why was she going so damn slow? He was all-over impatient.

That’s when Dax began to cut into his perfect dress. He started to pull at the ropes, glaring at Dax, who seemed to get even bigger and more excited the more he glared. Xóchi and Lee began to pull at the tears Dax was making, and the fabric made a wet, almost breaking sound as they ripped it. Somehow, Téo was sobbing. Rebecca was stroking his hair, gathering him to her breast, and Mikey slid deeper into him and stilled.

Dax met his eyes, and he was held in the demand and witness of someone who got it. Got how helpless he needed to be, and how much he needed to let go, and how tender and new he was inside, and how scary it was to let others know that. Dax placed the scissors on his bare stomach, holding them firmly against him. They were cold and warm at the same time. How was that possible?

Dax reached over and stroked Téo’s cheek, lifting hir fingers to suck off his tears. Ze repeated Mikey’s question. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. I wonder what it is?”

This time, he could say it. “I am a tender sweet young thing.”

Mikey pulsed her hand inside him, and he moaned, repeating it, and getting rewarded by more twisting-pulsing yum that made his thighs quiver.

Lee and Xóchi growled, nuzzling his side. Rebecca stroked his curls, emerging with ribbons that she put in her own hair. He was getting stiff, and he wanted to move, so he said it: “Untie me this instant. My dress is getting mussed!”

They all chuckled and began untying him. Mikey stayed where she was, writhing her fingers inside him. “So, you want to be free for this, eh? That sounds perfect,” she said.

“Oh yes,” he said and used his newly free hands to shift position. He knew if he hit the right spot, oh yes…her hand slurped in, and she grinned at him.

The rest of the tigers began to nuzzle his belly, and neck, and thighs. Mikey went to work in his hole, pulsing, then twisting, still going way too damn slow for him, and he told her so, began to work with her, thrusting on to her fist, telling her to punch him deep inside, he could take it, he wanted it, her fat fist was exactly what he needed. She caught on real fast and began slamming into him just right, and he lost control of his muscles and just let her take over. He was impaled on her huge and perfect fist, and he could feel it build in his chest. Damn…did he really need to cry again?

It seemed that he did, and as he began to sob, five tigers chose their spots and bit. Dax chose his belly, the soft part of him, the place where he was most tender. Rebecca went after his neck, sucking hard on the bite, wanting him to remember her teeth for days to come. Xóchi chose the inside of his arm, and that hurt the fucking worst. Damn, she was evil in the best way. Mikey bit down on the heel of his hand as she came because he felt so damn good spasming around her fist. Lee chose his thigh, and it mixed in with the sex to push him over into a sobbing orgasm that spiraled through him until he was spent. They all bit down and savored the sweetness of him, feeding on his tears, past his pleasure, until they were sated.

They gathered him up and found him a blanket, stroking his curls as he slurped down water, feeding him dried mango and chocolate on the huge round bed that was close by. Dax and Lee had a more substantial snack, being diabetics after all. Xóchi and Rebecca just shared his chocolate, each clutching their scrap of Téo’s dress. Lee admired the ribbons in Rebecca’s hair and stroked her neck, showing her teeth. No one was surprised that they wandered off. Xóchi’s girl was done cleaning and curled up at her feet, head on her boots. Jericho came by with his boy to claim scraps of the dress, kiss Téo’s cheek, and poke his bruises. He could tell he’d made Jericho proud and let that sink in.

After a while, Dax turned to Téo, serious. “You are brave and precious, and a delight to me. Thank you.” Ze gathered him close and twined hir fingers in his curls. Mikey nudged Dax and wrapped them both in her arms, nuzzling Téo and asking if he might like to come home with them. He had been hoping for that, and smiled sweetly, nodding. He was glad he didn’t need to put his armor back on just yet, content to have his tender spots showing for a bit longer.


This guest post is part of Xan West’s blog tour for hir new book Show Yourself To Me, available now from Go Deeper Press. Buy ebook or print copies at Go Deeper Press | Buy the ebook on Amazon

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.

Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.

Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.

Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.

This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

The stops on the blog tour:

October 1: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/
October 2: Book Birthday! Go Deeper Press http://godeeperpress.com/
October 3: Heather Elizabeth https://kinkopedia.wordpress.com/
October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith https://sugarbutch.net/
October 5: Hermia Swann http://www.cuntext.com/
October 6: Dilo Keith https://dilokeith.wordpress.com/ and Cecilia Tan http://blog.ceciliatan.com/
October 7: Kinky Brits http://thekinkybrits.com/
October 8: Stella Harris http://stellaharris.net/
October 9: F. Leonora Solomon https://fdotleonora.wordpress.com/
October 10: Tasha Harrison http://tashalharrison.com/
October 11: Benji Bright http://www.theeroticledger.com/
October 12: Tamsin Flowers http://tamsinflowers.com/ and Karida http://submissionandthecity.com/
October 13: Cassandra Perry http://cassandrajperry.com/
October 14: Peep Scoop http://www.peepscoop.com/ and Radical Access Mapping Project https://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/
October 15: Sugar Cunt http://www.sugarcuntwrites.com/
October 16: Emily Byrne http://writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com/
October 17: Oleander Plume http://poisonpendirtymind.com/
October 18: K. A. Smith https://authorka.wordpress.com/
October 19: Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
October 20: Butchtastic Kyle http://www.butchtastic.net/
October 21: Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
October 22: Syrens https://syrens.wordpress.com/
October 23: Anna Sky http://www.iamannasky.com/
October 24: Jade A. Waters http://jadeawaters.com/
October 25: Kal Cobalt http://kal-cobalt.squarespace.com/
October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon http://www.rebekahweatherspoon.com/
October 27: Malin James http://malinjames.com/
October 28: BD Swain http://www.bdswain.com/ and Jillian Boyd http://jillianboydauthor.wordpress.com/
October 29: Kaleigh Trace http://thefuckingfacts.com/
October 30: Kiki DeLovely https://kikidelovely.wordpress.com/
October 31: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/ and Annabeth Leong http://annabetherotica.com/