October 1st, 2013
I haven’t talked with either of my parents since July 18 when I ended a call after my dad wouldn’t call me by my name. Up until then, I’d usually talk to one parent or the other every three or four days, so it’s been a bit of an adjustment to go over two months without talking to either of them.
It so happens that today is my dad’s birthday, and although he and I still have our differences, I figured that I’d give him a call—I wasn’t sure if it might be awkward, but he’s still my old man, for Pete’s sake. I sort of thought of it like how some opposing soldiers would put down their arms on Christmas day and share a meal together.
I just got off the phone with him, and the call was somewhat surreal—our chat had many of the same conversational cues as if everything were fine, but I think we both knew that wasn’t really the case.
As the call was wrapping up, my dad asked if I had any travel plans coming up. Since I’m not working—and unlikely to spend money on travel for the heck of it—I think that was my dad’s way of asking whether I’d be coming to visit for Thanksgiving. At first I was reluctant to answer, seeing as though I didn’t want to rain on my dad’s birthday call, but I finally said,
ME: “I don’t have any travel coming up in the next few weeks… but I suppose Thanksgiving is coming up in November too. And I think I’d like to come for Thanksgiving. If you were to call me Ashley, I’d love to stay with you at the house. Or if not, I may book a room at a nearby hotel or stay with someone else.”
“So how are things going with the job hunt?”
Sometimes I wish my dad would set aside his stiff-upper-lip routine and tell me how he feels. Granted, a birthday call probably wouldn’t be the right context to get into a full discussion, but even a sentence or two of his thoughts would have been nice to hear.
July 18th, 2013
My dad called me just now, and I had a hunch he might try to carry on a conversation while avoiding all names and nicknames for me entirely.
(The last time that my dad called me “Snooks” over the phone, I ended the call. So I wasn’t surprised that he might try to find another “loophole” to try to call me without actually having to use my name.)
Sure enough, he plowed ahead with his plan:
ME: “Hi, this is Ashley.”
DAD: “Hi. How are you?”
ME: “Hi Dad. I can see what you’re doing there. And that’s not okay either. I’d like you to call me by my name.”
DAD: “We’ve discussed this.
“So how has your week been going?”
ME: “Dad, we can talk more about this when you’re ready to call me by my name. Goodbye.”
This time around, I didn’t offer a one-one-thousand grace period before I said goodbye—I was so sick of the “We’ve discussed this” bullshit that I just wanted to get off the phone as soon as possible.
Oh, and for anyone curious, the call lasted 31 seconds.
July 8th, 2013
My parents called—they were both on the line— and they sang “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone. But they seemed to take some creative license with the lyrics.
The tradition version of the song is, of course:
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear [name],
Happy birthday to you.
But their rendition went a bit differently:
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to youuuu,
Happy birthday to you.
I just—I don’t even. What.
And then my parents and I had some light chitchat—and throughout the call they managed to avoid calling me by any name, nickname or otherwise. I don’t even know what to say.
July 1st, 2013
About a year ago, Ashley sent her parents a letter asking them to call her Ashley. At the time, she left open the possibility that her parents could still call her by a childhood nickname sometimes, Snooks-Pooks. But her parents now call her Snooks all the time, so Ashley wrote her parents a second letter to more firmly ask them to call her Ashley and to remind them that Snooks-Pooks isn’t a replacement for her name.
Ashley chats with Jay about her parents’ reactions to the letter, in separate talks with her dad and then with her mom. Ashley hoped her second letter’s illustrations of gender dysphoria might help sway her parents, but their views remain just as headstrong as ever.
The next step is to ask her parents to call her Ashley when they refer to her as Snooks over the phone — and if they decline, she plans to end the call. Since Jay and Ashley talked, this has already happened once.
Ashley introduces Jay to ScrapeRite plastic razor blades, a dodad that may sound butch at the outset but earn their femme cred by offering a tool to save your nails from scraping and other tasks. Ashley also talks up Kohl’s cotton shoe liners (or “footies” as Jay’s mom calls them) — you wouldn’t think someone could be so stoked about an accessory that no one sees anyway, but Ashley can’t get enough of these, especially with their anti-slip pad at the back that helps keep them from slipping off her feet.
(Ashley’s nail polish in this episode is Teal the Cows Come Home. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)
June 26th, 2013
I just got off the phone with my dad.
ME: “Hi, this is Ashley.”
DAD: “Hi, Snooks. How are you?”
ME: “Hi, Dad. I’d like you to call me by my name.”
DAD: “We’ve discussed this. We’ve agreed not to call you [birthname] and to call you Snooks instead.”
“And we don’t like the name Ashley. So we’ll be calling you Snooks.”
ME: “Well, we can continue our conversation when you’re ready to call me by my name.”
[I counted a one one-thousand in my head—just in case my dad had second thoughts.]
And then I put down the phone.
February 3rd, 2013
A couple of friends and I watched Groundhog Day last night, and we couldn’t resist sharing our pithy comments now and again. My pal Steve couldn’t get past how frumpy most of the cast looked and at one point he remarked:
STEVE: “Bill Murray was kind of a schlub in 1993.”
ME: “Eh, I’d have gone out with him”
At which point my friend Andrea chimed in with:
ANDREA: “Being funny helps.”
ME: “Yeah, it really does.”
Growing up, I had often heard my female friends remark that a guy’s personality can affect how attractive he is. And I couldn’t really relate to it at the time, but I totally get it now.
(I predominantly identify as a lesbian—hence @FourthAndFirst, which is named after the fourth and first letters in “LGBT”—but I sometimes find guys attractive too. It’s probably about a 70/30 thing for me.)
January 24th, 2013
Ashley visited her parents at the beginning of winter. Over her previous visit for Thanksgiving, she had heaps of support from visiting relatives, but this time Ashley had fewer allies — mostly just her brother, who gets her name and pronouns right all the time.
Her parents still use the wrong pronouns, and Ashley thought it might be because they didn’t know how much it hurts her. Wanting to remove any doubt, she braced for confrontation and told them how deeply hurt she feels when someone refers to her with male pronouns. She was shocked when her parents reacted with indifference.
In addition to the pronoun problem, Ashley’s parents have switched to using a childhood nickname for her instead of the name she chose. She was okay with that for a while, but she’s come to realize that her parents still use her birth name when she’s not around.
Ashley wonders whether writing a letter would work better than her attempt to ask them person, although a similar letter last spring didn’t seem to have much effect.
Ashley laments that L’Oreal’s Double Extend Mascara with Beauty Tubes tend to irritate her contact lenses, so she went to look for an alternative. She got a recommendation from her hair stylist for Smashbox’s Full Exposure Mascara, and discovered that it worked well for her without irritating her contacts in the same way that L’Oreal’s mascara did.
Ashley also offers a positive review for Urban Decay’s All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray, which you can spray onto your face after you apply your makeup — but before applying any mascara — to help your makeup last throughout the day. Ashley mentions that Urban Decay’s Makeup Setting Spray makes a difference on those days where her makeup really has to last.
(Ashley’s nail polish in this episode is Aruba Blue from Essie. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)
January 20th, 2013
Trigger Warning: Suicide
[What is a trigger warning?]
Over the last few months, I’ve had fleeting thoughts about suicide every two or three days. (I suspect a large part is from my parents’ lack of acceptance.) But each time such a thought enters my head, it may be around for no more than a second or two before I swat it away, not unlike a gnat in my mind.
I don’t mean to be flippant, but it’s almost as if one corner of my brain is saying, “Maybe all this would be easier if I was dead,” but with the rest of my brain soon chiming in with, “No, that would be a really bad idea.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve come to realize I have depression (which I recognize from having had in the past). I haven’t yet sought medication for that, but might that be something that could help dispel these thoughts?
(I took Lexapro the last time I had depression and it seemed to work okay, but if you have depression and if there’s a particular medication that’s worked well for you, I’d like to hear about it.)
Either way, I have a psychotherapist who I can talk to about this kind of thing, and I plan on setting up an appointment with them soon.
P.S. To reiterate, I have no plans on killing myself, and I want to be around for a long time. I just have these thoughts that keep creeping in my head about this.
Updated Jan. 21: I have an appointment on Thursday.
Updated Jan. 24: I had a really good conversation with my psychotherapist and I have another appointment with them on Thursday.
Updated Jan. 25: My doc has given me a prescription for lithium to start.
December 21st, 2012
Even though Ashley’s name change has gone through, she’s wasn’t sure whether it would make any difference when she visited her parents over Thanksgiving. It turns out, Ashley’s cousins, aunts, and uncles seem to have become all the more supportive, while her parents still lag behind.
Ashley goes over a conversation with her parents in which she tried to gently ask them again if they could please use her pronouns. She was expecting that it might be a five-minute conversation — mostly just putting out the request and then awaiting the invariable milquetoast response — but Ashley recalls that the conversation nosedived right from the start. Although Ashley had hoped to focus on her pronouns rather than her name (which seemed to be more of a sticking point), her parents soon derailed the discussion to harp on about her name.
Although Ashley’s parents have moved on to using a childhood nickname for her — well, most of the time — Ashley laments that this would-be interim name seems to have taken up permanent residence. Ashley and Jay ponder how she could try to convey to her parents how important it is to her that they use her name. They mull over a few ideas and Jay half-jokingly tosses out the idea that Ashley could have photocopies of her driver’s license at the ready to pass out to any doubting bystanders.
Ashley recalls her dad telling an anecdote about her college years and, after Ashley discovered that he was using the wrong pronouns, she chimed in with a brief correction, only to have her dad offer the rationalization, “but you were a ‘he’ at the time.” Realizing that the I Would Prefer These Pronouns When Referring to My Past discussion wasn’t something she could squeeze in as an aside over dinner with guests, Ashley contemplates whether she should send her parents an email to talk through some of that.
Back in our second episode, Ashley sung the praises of using primer as part of one’s makeup routine, including recommendations for L’Oreal Paris’ Magic Perfecting Base and Smashbox’ Photo Finish. After recently noticing a reformulation of L’Oreal’s primer, however, Ashley revisits whether it’s still a comparable product against Smashbox’ Photo Finish. Ashley also follows up on some earlier thoughts about cleaning one’s makeup brushes and she shares some tips to help prevent one’s brushes from losing their bristles.
(Ashley’s polish in this episode is German-icure from OPI. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)
September 14th, 2012
After having filed her paperwork and heaps of waiting — among other steps — Ashley’s court date for her name change finally arrived. Ashley goes over the happenings that day and how things played out, including her game plan for getting out of bed by 5:30 a.m.
Ashley and Jay chat about some of the documents Ashley has to get updated, some of which Ashley has already tackled, others of which she’s leaving until her gender marker has been updated too. Oh, yeah — in Texas, it’s a complete nuisance to get one’s gender marker changed, but Ashley is giving it a shot. Ashley has been in talks with a lawyer to help with that and she’s keeping her fingers crossed that their fees won’t cost her an arm and a leg.
Jay asks if Ashley had any celebrations to commemorate the event and Ashley mentions that she had invited over several of her closest friends the evening of the court date for some drinks and yummy cake. From there, Jay lobs a noshy pun that Ashley mistakes for everyday banter and that trails along for a moment or two, but they get things sorted out.
In lieu of eyeshadow primer, Ashley offers that you can use foundation in a pinch. She offers the caveat that it’s not nearly as good as actual eyeshadow primer, but that it’s still a step up from no eyeshadow primer at all. Ashley then talks with Jay about how you can use liquid eyeliner — in this case, an inexpensive liquid liner from Milani, a drugstore brand — to somewhat darken the shade of one’s lashes to create a stronger contrast around one’s eyes. And, hey, we didn’t talk about nail polish on the show, although who knows if the postscript below disqualifies that.
(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Make Waves from Piggy Polish. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)