Ethan Smith – “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be” (CUPSI 2014)


A letter to the girl I used to be. Dear Emily, Every time I watch baseball a voice I no longer recognize whispers “Ethan, do you remember? When you were gonna be the first girl in the
major leagues? Seattle Mariners. Rally cap.” But to be honest, Emily, I don’t. Dad told me that like it was someone else’s
bedtime story. But I know you had that drive, didn’t let anyone tell you to wear shorts
above your knees, didn’t care if boys thought your hair fell
on your shoulders just right. But with girls, sleepovers meant the space
between your shoulder and hers was a 6-inch fatal territory. The year you turned eleven was the first time
you said out loud that you didn’t want to live anymore. In therapy, you said you wouldn’t make it
to 21. On my 21st birthday, I thought about you,
you were right. At nineteen, you started to fade. I tried to cross you out, like a line in my memoir I wished I could erase completely. And maybe misunderstanding the definition
of death, but even though parts of you still exist you
are not here, most of my friends have never heard your name
until now. I’ve been trying to write this letter for
six months. I still can’t decide if it should be an apology
or not, but now you will never hear “Emily Smith”
announced at a college graduation, get married, give birth. When the prescribed testosterone started taking
effect my body stopped producing the potential for
new life every month. I thought about your children how I wanted them too. I let a doctor remove your breasts so that I could stand up straighter. Now even if I somehow had those children, I wouldn’t be able to nourish them. My body is obsolete, scarred cosmetic, but never C-section. I was four days late, they will never be grandparents I was one week late, they will never hold their lover’s sleeping
figure. I was eleven days late, they will never breathe in a sunset and sunrise
in the same night. I was two weeks late, they will never learn to jump rope. I was three weeks late, they will never shout “Watch Mommy! Watch
me on the slide!” I was two months late, a piece of us will never wrap their arms around our leg for comfort, or just to keep them from falling down. And I am, sorry, That this process is so slow, and all you
can do is wonder if you ever had a place. You did. You still do. Don’t forget that. Yours, Ethan p.s. I never hated you.

100 thoughts on “Ethan Smith – “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be” (CUPSI 2014)

  1. Dear Emily,
    Every time I watch baseball a voice I no longer recognise whispers
    "Ethan, do you remember? When you were going to be the first girl
    To play in the major league Seattle mariners rally cap?"
    But to honest Emily I don't
    Dad told me that like it was someone else's bedtime story
    But I do know you had that drive
    Didn't let anyone tell you to wear shorts above your knees
    Didn't care if boys thought your hair fell on your shoulders just right
    But with girls, sleepovers meant the space between your shoulder and hers
    Was a 6-inch fatal territory
    The year you turned eleven
    Was the first time you said out loud that you didn't want to live anymore
    In therapy you said you wouldn't make it to 21
    On my 21st birthday I thought about you
    You were right
    At 19 you started to fade
    I tried to cross you out like a line in my memoir
    I wished I could erase completely
    And maybe I'm misunderstanding the definition of death
    But even though parts of you still exist
    You are not here
    Most of my friends have never heard your name until now
    I've been trying to write this letter for 6 months
    I still can't decide if it should be an apology or not
    But now you will never hear "Emily Smith" announced at a college graduation,
    Get married, give birth
    When the prescribed testosterone started taking effect
    My body stopped producing the potential for new life every month
    I thought about your children, how I wanted them too
    I let a doctor remove your breasts so I could stand up straighter
    Now even if I somehow had those children I wouldn't be able to nourish them
    My body is obsolete
    Scarred cosmetic but never C-section
    I was 4 days late
    There will never be grandparents
    I was one week late
    They will never hold their lover's sleeping figure
    I was 11 days late
    They will never breathe in a sunset and a sunrise in the same night
    I was 2 weeks late
    They will never learn to jump rope
    I was 3 weeks late
    They will never shout "Watch mummy, watch me on the slide"
    I was 2 months late
    A piece of us will never wrap their arms around our legs for comfort
    Just to keep them from falling down
    And I am sorry that this process is so slow and all you can do is wonder if you ever had a place
    You did
    You still do
    Don't forget that
    Yours, Ethan
    P.S. I never hated you

  2. i am crying, I can't even relate to him but I just felt so sad…life is so complicated.

  3. Well, I’m crying.

    The imagery about a piece of us will never wrap itself around our leg for comfort

    And the button, I don’t hate you… 😭

  4. “in therapy you said you wouldn’t make it to 21. on my twenty first birthday i thought about you. you were right.”

    oh my god this is so amazing

  5. I’ve come back to this countless times, and I still tear up every time he says “I will never hear them shout ‘watch mommy watch me on the slide.’” Hits me deep.

  6. I am currently ugly sobbing in my bedroom and I'm totally ok with that.

  7. Okay comments people, I need advice. I have a friend Lexi, she believes she is transgender. I am 100% accepting of the LGBTQA+ community (i'm a part of it) but…i don't believe she is transgender. Here's why:
    I've known her since we were in 5th grade (we are in 10th now) and she has never wanted to be a boy, never hid her boobs, never dressed like a boy, never had her hair short, never hid her period (she would actually tell me about it and how she felt like a 'ketchup packet')
    About a year ago, she found this kid Jake on Instagram. He was born a girl but is now a boy, he is transgender. Now all of a sudden, Lexi wants to be called 'Jax' and she cut all her hair, wants to hid her boobs. Ever since she started talking to Jake. I don't believe she is trans for this reason. I am gender fluid so i don't care what i'm called, when someone says 'sir' or mistakes me for a boy, she will roll her eyes, like i wanna be called a boy (i mean i couldn't care less about if i'm called a boy or a girl, i don't identify as one or the other) but i strongly believe she is only saying she is trans because of this kid Jake. Should i tell her about my view on it. Cause i don't think i can call her Jax, i feel like it would be disrespectful to people who are really trans! I was put in a mental hospital for a month and i met a trans kid, River, from girl to boy. I stayed with him for so long, and heard what he had to say so much that i believed i was trans. But when i got out, i realized i wasn't. I realized i am gender fluid. But…I strongly don't believe she is trans. At all. My parents thought i was trans as a kid because i always had short hair, never answered to 'girl' 'her' 'she' or anything, and when i started getting boobs, i wore long and baggy cloths to hide them. She never did anything like that. I know cause she's told me about her childhood and she has showed me pictures of her as a kid. I just…don't believe she is trans, i think it's because she has been talking to Jake.
    Should i tell her how i feel?

  8. This is so real
    Especially because transitioning is such a big decision it really puts how dificult it is to make such a permanent decision that takes so long, especially when you've been taught to be something different for so long.

  9. I've been watching this video for 4 years and cry every time. I wanna follow Ethan on twitter but don't know his @

  10. This is soooooo beautiful…
    I have to listen to it over and over again…
    It does remind me of myself but still is different too…
    I wish I could meet Ethan and tell him in the face that this is really good and I listen to this to make me feel better when I'm feeling down….

    So a big thank you for Ethan

  11. this makes me want to postpone testosterone and donate my eggs tbh.

  12. All you can do is wonder if you ever had a place. You did. You still do. Don't forget that… P.S., I never hated you- These lines shook me

  13. I don't think I'm strong enough for this. Why me? It should have been someone braver, someone better. I can't find a path to follow where I don't lose. If I come out, if I transition, I lose me… I lose Anna, and I don't know if I'm ready to say goodbye to her yet. I lose her children. But if I don't, I lose Zach, who I should have been in the first place. I lose my shot at being happy. How is that a decision I can ever make?

  14. I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry I'm not gonna cry…

    I'm gonna cry. 😭❤

  15. Writing this good seriously makes me hate anything I’ve ever written. This is a truly beautiful poem, had chills the entire time.

  16. So you are saying you made a mistake or are you saying that the mistake was not transitioning sooner?

  17. Hands down to u brother respect for all those who are coming out and telling there story u can't change who u are brother hands down a lot of love xx

  18. The moment I heard the part about him at 11, I started bawling. This is one of the best poems I've ever heard, and the delivery carries so much emotion.

  19. YALL REALLY GON MAKE ME CRY LIKE THIS!!! WE GON GET THESE TEARS!!! HUH??? SNATCHED FROM MY EYES UGHooOOFOOF

  20. Quietly sits in corner and Cries Cause Oof Being trans isnt as glorified as people make it out to be. Being Stared At because people Cant tell what gender you are Or when Dysphoria kicks in And Makes You wanna Rip your chest off.And Everything for Trans people Is Expensive testosterone and estrogen and Top surgery and bottom surgery are so expensive and in some states you can't even get surgery to change your name and when you change your name you have to pay and you have to put in a court order and wait for A Judge to Accept It.

  21. The sentence "you said in therapy that you will not make it until 21 and you didn't" got me so hard. Wow. I'm crying.

  22. My family doesn't fully understand how hard it is to share existence with the girl they brought up. Lexi is still here,and I don't mind her being the one this body belongs to but I'm not her. Rent is so expensive when you have to pay with pieces of your own esteem..

  23. This letter made my day I am so happy for Ethan accepting that being his true self is ok that being the boy he was meant to be and sharing his story are all wonderful things

  24. Shit shit shit …..it moved ne to tears .I can't relate but the way he performed and his eyes…you could see tears in them .God !!!!

  25. Oh man, every time i hear this poem, i can feel the tears coming. Im a straight male, but those words really have a big impact on me. Congrats, Ethan, that was so brave and beautiful.

  26. "I've been trying to write this letter for 6 months
    I still don't know if I should make it an apology or not"
    Him talking about that, and him talking about the kids he wanted.
    Entire poem gives me chills every time.

  27. I've watched this video so many times I can practically recite it word for word but only through tears, I have never been able to get through this video without crying

  28. this made me cry. ugly cry. and i'm not even mad about it.

  29. Now I have to write a letter to the girl I used to be. Honestly though, nothing has hit me as hard as this poem did in a long time.

  30. I’m on the couch crying and I found this so late but I don’t care because it doesn’t matter. It was worth every second to listen to this

  31. fuck. i really want to hug my brother rn. I’ll never even begin to know how difficult transitioning was for him💔

  32. how did i get here? i started at “when the fat girl gets skinny”!
    I’ve fallen into a whole of poems😳

  33. to whoever is reading this…YOU.ARE.VALID!.and i love you and i’m so proud of you💘

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