Personal Rejection Letter: The Deadname

Dear Ethan Leonard,

Thank you for sending your latest impulse decision to sign yourself to another chain pizza restaurant’s points program. I appreciate your previous work of ignoring three brothers insulting you at a young age through rhyme and wordplay. “Wee-Thin Ethan,” for example, wielded a wit that exposed a raw vulnerability in gym class that was both physical and emotional, and “Pee-than” illustrated your expert and nuanced intimacy with bodily humor accessible only to those younger than eleven and older than six. Additionally, your numerous accolades preserved and honored at the MoMA (Museum of Mom’s Affection) are nothing short of ambitious, revolutionary, and inspiring in their capacity to embarrass you in front of your nieces and nephews annually during holidays.

Nevertheless, I am obligated as your representative to inform you that you are no longer who I am looking for.

Rejection is never easy. I was there at our final youth group meeting, when you sat hunched on the church access ramp alone, bawling after a backhanded anti-LGBT sermon. I was there when your step-brother expressed his discomfort at the thought of you kissing a man in front of his kids. Please rest assured this letter is by no means a reflection of your lyrical power. I can guarantee there’s some other young anime nerd out there developing anxiety and a love for giving a menagerie of plush animals flat but specific personalities. They’ll address you and hear themselves for the first time.

Trust me when I tell you that’s what it means to be accepted, to find a good home.

On a more positive note, I love the L in Leonard, and the E in Ethan. Those two letters are especially poignant as a fan of Ellie’s characterization in the video game “The Last of Us,” as a sucker for paying meager homage to those parents who raised me and still accept me, and as a film buff who was way too young to possibly understand Vanilla Sky’s plot when they first saw it but for some reason vividly recalls and obsesses over the image of Tom Cruise screaming “L.E.!” while banging on a window.

In the meantime, I hope you are inspired by this short personal note, and the knowledge this is the only rejection you’ll receive from me.


Best of luck out there.

Ellie Gordon.


Ellie Gordon is a nonbinary trans writer living in Washington State. Their work has been published with Jellyfish Review, and under their legal name (Ethan Leonard) with Drunk Monkeys, Cotton Xenomorph, MoonPark Review, and others. They tweet at @autonomousbagel.


image: Noreen Ocampo