Damn Fine Sentence #52

“Two were female, and one was tercera.”

Dawn Downey
1 min readNov 29, 2023


Frequently while I’m reading, a sentence grabs me and forces me to stop. I pay tribute to other authors by sharing their Damn Fine Sentences with you. Then I recount a memory the words bring up for me. It’s about how books connect with your life.

“Two were female, and one was tercera ….”

— — — Martha Wells

— — — Murderbot Diaries: Artificial Condition

A student approached my brother Wayne after class. “Dr. Downey, you called me she, but I don’t identify as a woman.”

Dr. Downey, probably wearing his The Original Homeland Security tee shirt, was surprised. “Oh … I’m sorry … what would you like to be called?”

“They,” they replied.

Wayne said, “Thank you for telling me. I’ll remember from now on.” Then he rushed straight over to the Queer Resource Center to get pronoun lessons.

Next year, Dr. Downey will be teaching The Psychology of Gender.

When it comes to making the world safe for people to be who they are, Brother Wayne is my mentor.