kink, nonbinary diaries

Nonbinary Honorific Terms for a Dominant

In the nonbinary D/s groups I was holding last year, this question came up so frequently: What titles and honorifics do we want to use for a nonbinary dominant?

The usual are all so gendered: Sir, Ma’am, Mistress, and (that term with much controversy, that I’m not personally using any longer) Master. There have been plenty of arguments that even the gendered dominant terms are still, in fact, gender neutral, and can and should be divorced from gender and taken up by anyone who resonates with them. I generally agree with that — I think if we find a word that resonates and feels like it conveys the kind of dominance that we like, that is probably a good one to use.

The most common “gender neutral” or nonbinary honorifics I hear suggested are Mx, Mixter, and Mixtress, but they still are a little bit gendered in their form, and the x is often pretty awkward for people to pronounce. Perhaps we’ll get more used to it in years to come, and we’ll see a rise of its use. We’ll see.

But there are many others! Such as:

  • Captain
  • Your Highness
  • My Liege
  • Your Magesty
  • Your Worship
  • Magister / Magistrate
  • Doctor
  • Professor
  • Boss

A quick Google search brings up a few more resources, and here are a few good quotes from them:

“You could go the medieval route, ala “Your Grace” or “Your Majesty”. You could do a military route, like “Commander” or “Captain”. You could go a 90s anime gangster route, like “Boss”. Or you could be more sappy and be addressed as “Beloved” or “My love”.” — From the Genderqueer Reddit

From Queer Kink Tumblr:

    Captain: from Latin caput meaning “head”.
    Professor: from Latin professor meaning “one who professes to be an expert in some art or science, teacher of the highest rank”. Generally better for teacher/student play.
    Your Highness: figure it out yourself
    My Liege: liege is a form of address used by surfs to denote the land owner.
    Doctor: from Latin Doctor meaning “teacher”
    -san: General Japanese honorific. Gender neutral. Somewhat like Mr. or Ms.
    -sama: Japanese honorific, very honorable, archaic, equivalent of Mistress or Master.
    Your Majesty: figure it out yourself
    Your Worship: figure it out yourself
    Magister: Latin, one who has authority or control
    Colonel: from Latin columna meaning “pillar”

This image has also been making the rounds on social media (original source unknown). I do want to remind folks that “Yas Queen” is AAVE, as it is cultural appropriation for white folks to be using those phrases. One of the many reasons it’s important to know where your phrases come from, what the linguistic cultural history of them is, so you can be certain to stay respectful.

Still, it can help us get thinking about things to call dominants or tops who are in between genders, or for whom the gender doesn’t quite fit right.

What do you think? Which words do you like to call your dominant, or do you like to be called? What have you heard others use?

Published by Sinclair Sexsmith

Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) is "the best-known butch erotica writer whose kinky, groundbreaking stories have turned on countless queers" (AfterEllen), who "is in all the books, wins all the awards, speaks at all the panels and readings, knows all the stuff, and writes for all the places" (Autostraddle). ​Their short story collection, Sweet & Rough: Queer Kink Erotica, was a 2016 finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, and they are the current editor of the Best Lesbian Erotica series. They identify as a white non-binary butch dominant, a survivor, and an introvert, and they live outside Seattle as an uninvited settler on traditional, ancestral, & unceded Snoqualmie land.

7 thoughts on “Nonbinary Honorific Terms for a Dominant”

  1. Samantha D says:

    I love “your highness”… makes my inner brat squeal with possibilities. Trying this tonight!

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