January 30th, 2014
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.)
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
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.
(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.)
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.)