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Getting the hang of being a woman.

Ashley’s New Vagina (s02e14)

July 12th, 2017

Jay Frosting

Remember back in 2015 when Ashley put in a two-years-out down payment for bottom surgery with Dr. Bowers? Well, that two years later is now now, and Ashley has just gone through gender-confirmation surgery with Dr. Bowers, and she and Jay talk through its ups and downs.

Ashley thinks back to her facial-feminization surgery in 2014, and she recalls letting her parents know about that upcoming surgery and their reaction at the time of near indifference. In contrast, a few months ago when Ashley let her parents know about her gender-confirmation surgery, they seemed much more receptive — although they weren’t quite fully enthusiastic either. But in a moment that surprised Ashley, her mom offered that she’d be open to coming with Ashley for surgery if she didn’t already have someone to go with her.

Fortunately, Ashley did have someone to go with her. Dinah, one of Ashley’s longtime friends, generously offered that Ashley could stay at her apartment in San Francisco during her recovery, and Ashley quite happily took her up on it. Ashley knew that she’d be stuck in the hospital for a few days after her surgery, and she was super grateful to be able to stay spend her post-hospital time hanging out with Dinah and her boyfriend Joe in their comfy apartment rather than being cooped up in a hotel room.

Jay and Ashley talk through the surgery itself along with the pre-surgery gantlet of the bowel-prep that Ashley had to go through. In the process of chatting about the gallon of liquid that Ashley had to guzzle, Jay and Ashley get to thinking that barium might have been one of its ingredients, but having checked on that later, it would seem that magnesium citrate might be the more likely active ingredient.

As for the surgery itself, Ashley made it through swimmingly. Ashley was on bedrest for the first two days after her surgery, but having brought along her iPhone, her iPad, and a few comic books to the hospital, Ashley didn’t struggle to stave off boredom. She wasn’t in too much pain during her stay at the hospital, though her regular doses of Percocet probably helped with that. On top of that, a number of Ashley’s friends from the Bay Area — including Carla, Jeff, Matt, and Julie — visited her in the hospital, which did wonders to lift her spirits.

Three days after her surgery, Ashley was cleared to leave the hospital. At that point, she was still tethered to a catheter bag, which she had to drag around with her until her follow-up appointment, which was a few days later. And at that point, her vagina was full of post-surgery packing as well. So while Ashley relished being able to hang out at Dinah’s cozy apartment, the first few days of her post-hospital recovery still had some tough moments.

At the post-surgery checkup at Dr. Bowers’ office, they took out the packing from Ashley’s vagina, which felt to her a bit like the magician’s trick where they pull a seemingly endless stream of handkerchiefs out of their fist. And then after that, they taught Ashley how to dilate, which is a process of inserting medical-grade dildos into one’s new vagina to prevent it from healing shut. Ashley grouses to Jay about the tedium of dilating, but she also concedes that she’d much rather go through the monotony of dilating her new vagina than to not have one at all. Still, Ashley is looking forward to the coming months when she’ll be able to pare down her dilating schedule from three times a day to two times a day (and eventually being able to pare it down even more).

From there, Ashley shares some keen makeup jobbies that she has come across. First up is Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid, which makes use of the principles of the color wheel to cancel out skin tones that one might be looking to minimize. Ashley also goes over her recent find of a new concealer, MAC’s Matchmaster Concealer. She finds its lipstick-like consistency rather convenient because it hardly requires much blending after it’s applied — unlike many liquid concealers that she’s tried.

Ashley feels like she’s over the hump in her recovery, and she’s able to get through most of her day-to-day activities without too much trouble. Her life isn’t quite back to normal just yet, but she finds that each day is a little bit better than the day before. And while it may have taken close to forty years, Ashley finally feels comfortable with what she sees in the mirror.

(Ashley’s polish in this episode is D’Lilac. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Generally Hopeful (s02e13)

January 31st, 2016

Jay Frosting

After Ashley’s wobbly visit with her parents over Independence Day weekend in which her parents carelessly outed Ashley to her brother’s parents-in-law, Ashley came to realize that her parents weren’t using her pronouns when she wasn’t around. So she decided to write a third letter to her parents.

(If you might like to catch up on Ashley’s earlier letters, check out “Immovable Object” from July 2013 and “The Letter” from June 2012.)

Ashley sent her letter in early November with the hope that maaaybe her parents might give some thought to practicing her name and pronouns before she came to visit for Thanksgiving — especially since a bunch of Ashley’s sister-in-law’s family were coming to visit for Thanksgiving, and Ashley dreaded the thought of her parents nonchalantly outing her to them one by one as her parents chatted to them throughout the day.

Oddly enough, Ashley’s parents didn’t seem all that interested in talking through her letter before she arrived, so she didn’t quite know what to expect going into her visit. But to her pleasant surprise, Ashley’s parents seemed to make an earnest effort with her name and pronouns — maybe they actually did a little practicing after all? However her parents made their progress, Ashley just hopes that their efforts aren’t another flash in the pan.

Ashley also chats with Jay about a few makeup finds. MAC’s Select Moisturecover Concealer has been holding its own as Ashley’s long-time concealer, but she also recently came across Kat Von D’s Lock-It Concealer. She discovered that each concealer has its own uses, so Ashley ends up hanging on to both of them.

After reading The Sweet Home’s mascara comparison, Ashley decided to give Buxom’s Lash Waterproof Mascara a shot. Ashley was a little worried about the “waterproof” part — because sometimes waterproof mascaras can be a bit of a bear to remove. But Ashley’s impressed with the extent that Buxom’s mascara manages to avoid flaking without being impervious to makeup remover at the end of the day.

(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Tartan Punk from CND’s gel line. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Are Things Getting Better? (s02e12)

August 23rd, 2015

Jay Frosting

Ashley went to see her parents over Independence Day weekend. Her brother Adrian, and his wife and parents-in-law were also there, so Ashley felt some reassurance that even if her parents weren’t any better with her name and pronouns, at least the support from the other visitors would able to make up for it a bit.

Sadly, Ashley’s dad breezed through misgendering Ashley without batting an eye, neatly outing her to Adrian’s parents-in-law. She was so upset she couldn’t even muster a correction to her dad’s careless pronoun use. Being around these new extended family members got awkward after that.

Worse, Ashley came to realize that her parents’ lax pronoun efforts could become a safety issue if, in public, her parents were to misgender her within earshot of someone who might be inclined to do harm to people like her. Ashley decides to write another letter to her parents to try to spell out the potential consequences of their devil-may-care approach.

She also goes over her plans for GCS (gender-confirmation surgery). She’s put in a down payment with Dr. Marci Bowers, but it may not happen until Spring of 2017.

Ashley tells Jay about the Too Faced retractable kabuki brush. She’d been needing a retractable powder brush to stash in her purse, and while she was previously wary of artificial-hair bristles, Ashley found that it picks up powder just as deftly as any of her natural-hair brushes. Then she compares two different powders and comes away with a new winner.

(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Suzy & The Seven Dusseldorfs. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Mom and Dad: Still Doofuses (s2e11)

February 13th, 2015

Jay Frosting

Ashley chats with Jay about visiting her parents in December. They didn’t use her birthname during the trip, but they didn’t call her Ashley that often, either. Worse, it seems as if her parents are putting on an act while she’s around — because after they think she’s out of hearing range, they go right back to using the wrong pronouns. So Ashley isn’t sure whether it might be worth writing them another letter or perhaps trying another tack.

Jay and Ashley discuss voice coaching and future surgeries, what bra size Ashley would ideally like, and whether a corset might fun to wear sometimes.

Jay learns about Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel, a polish line that’s supposed to offer gel-like resilience but without the need to use a UV light (like a traditional gel polish would). And from there, Ashley tells Jay about the Nails Inc corrector pen that she recently picked up — the pen is filled with nail-polish remover so that it sort of acts like Wite-Out but for nail-polish typos. What a score.

(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Barbados Blue from Essie. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

So Many Trips! (s02e10)

December 31st, 2014

Jay Frosting

Ashley and Jay talk about Ashley’s travels over the last few months, including the family reunion she attended in July, her brother’s wedding in August, and her dad’s 70th birthday in October.

Her extended family at the reunion were super accepting, always using Ashley’s correct name and pronouns. Her parents, unfortunately, still haven’t made the switch 100%.

At her brother’s wedding, Ashley felt totally included among the other women, especially when they all went to get their hair done. Her Mom and Dad were generally charming and nice, but there were a couple times when they went back to using her old pronouns, and didn’t seem to notice. Maybe the liquor had something to do with that?

Ashley went to visit her folks for Thanksgiving, and they invited a friendly crowd of uncles, aunts, and cousins, who provided a healthy buffer around her. But once again, her parents’ tally of proper name and pronouns fell short.

Jay learns about Too Faced Lip Insurance, a lipstick primer from the same company that makes the excellent Too Faced Shadow Insurance (Ashley’s go-to eyeshadow primer). And Ashley shares her discovery about how applying thinner coats of nail polish can help make your nail polish more durable.

(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Style Maker from Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel line. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Ashley’s New Face (s02e09)

June 2nd, 2014

Jay Frosting

Ashley gives Jay all the details about her recent trip to Argentina for her FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) with Dr. Di Maggio, and the amazing help she got from her friend Andrea (on Twitter @ButtermilkPecan) while recovering and getting settled in a strange city.

Like any surgery, it wasn’t a walk in the park, but Ashley was pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t much pain, and she had no complaints about her relatively smooth recovery, which Ashley credits to her doctor’s delicate approach.

Ashley introduces Jay to Solar Oil from CND, a brush-on nail conditioner that — although she’s only been using it for about a week so far — seems to be helping to keep Ashley’s cuticles happy.

Not wanting to make a big mess in her luggage with lotion that comes in a pump, Ashley found Aveeno’s Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which has plenty of moisturizing but doesn’t leave a greasy feel behind.

(Ashley’s nail polish in this episode is It’s Up to Blue from Orly. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought you’d like to know.)

Winterfamilytime 2013 (s02e08)

January 30th, 2014

Jay Frosting

After a promising visit with her parents over Thanksgiving, Ashley felt somewhat optimistic about seeing them in December, but since there’d be fewer allies in the house, she worried her parents would backslide into the wrong name and pronouns.

Ashley was pleased to discover that her dad was still mostly trying, although he may have flubbed her pronouns a bit more than he did in November. But Ashley’s mom resorted to calling Ashley by a childhood nickname, Snooks, most of the time. Worse, Ashley overheard her parents casually using the wrong pronouns several times when they thought she couldn’t hear them.

She told her parents about the Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) coming up in April, and was surprised that her parents had almost no reaction. They expressed little empathy for the costs involved, and Ashley’s dad sided with the insurance companies’ canard that transition-related surgery should be considered elective rather than medically necessary.

Ashley then tells Jay about a new hand lotion that she’s come across, OPI’s Avojuice series (yup — the same OPI that makes the nail polish). And while it costs a bit more than CeraVe, Ashley feels that the OPI lotion’s scents could make it worthwhile when you want to treat yourself.

And what Miss Gender episode would be complete without some nail polish goodies? Ashley’s strict timing regimen led her to the Timeless mobile app (for iOS), which lets you set up multiple preset timers and start or stop any of them with a few taps.

(Ashley’s nail polish in this episode is Designer Series Luxurious from OPI. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Oh, is that how it is?

December 25th, 2013


I’m visiting my folks in Charlotte for a few days, and things started out pretty well with my dad. He picked me up at the airport, said, “Hi, Ashley” when he greeted me, and we were off to the races.

Once we got home, I chatted with my mom a bit too, and while I don’t mind “Snooks” as an occasional nickname, my mom just kept calling me Snooks and never once my name. Finally, after about the third time:

MOM: And Snooks, Dinner will probably be ready around 6:00.

ME: “I’d prefer if you’d call me Ashley.”

[Before my mom could reply, my dad chimed in:]

DAD: “Well, we said that we’d try to call you Ashley in public. But we still like Snooks, and we’ll go with that sometimes too.”

I was too stunned to say anything. And it really chapped my hide not only that they weren’t really over this hump but also that they seemed to think I was the insensitive one for bringing it up. For fuck’s sake.


December 15th, 2013

Jay Frosting

After Ashley sent a second letter to her parents about using her correct name, she realized that they would probably just fall back to calling her Snooks all the time, a childhood nickname. She decided that if her they called her Snooks the next time they called, she’d ask them to call her by her name – and if they didn’t, she would end the call. That’s what happened.

Ashley thought they would call again sometime but avoid names entirely. And when that happened, Ashley mentioned to them that it wasn’t okay to do that either – and then ended the call. Other than calling her dad for his birthday, Ashley didn’t talk to her parents at all over the next several months.

Thanksgiving was approaching, and she started to worry that staying with her parents might end up being a four-day stretch of being called anything but her name. She thought she could handle that behavior for one meal, but made plans to stay with other (more supportive) nearby relatives for the rest of the time.

She told her parents about her tentative plans to stay somewhere else, but included the offer to stay with them if they’d call her by her name.

Ashley’s parents replied a few days later and astounded Ashley by starting their email with, “Hi Ashley”! And while the rest of their email seemed to backtrack a little from their enthusiastic opening, Ashley wondered whether this might hint at some movement on their end.

There’s more to the story, but it’d better to hear Ashley tell it.

We also recommend a make-up foundation, Make Up For Ever HD and CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion.

(Ashley’s nail polish in this episode is Deutsche You Want Me Baby from OPI. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)

Calling My Dad For His Birthday

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.”

DAD: “Okay.


“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.