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Getting the hang of being a woman.

How do I stop these fleeting thoughts of suicide?

January 20th, 2013

Ashley

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.

— Ashley

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.

Thanksgiving Too

December 21st, 2012

Ashley

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.)

Name Change Day

September 14th, 2012

Ashley

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.)

No More Ms. Nice Girl

August 6th, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley had been trying to remain patient with her parents’ refusal to use her new name or correct pronouns, hoping that they’d come around on their own. In a letter she sent them a couple months ago, she sternly asked them to call her Ashley and decided to correct them whenever they refer to her incorrectly. With Mom & Dad staying in her guest room just down the hall and the weekend’s imminent raft of corrections, Ashley felt a building sense of anxiety in the weeks leading up to their visit.

Her parents call her by the wrong name 18 times on the first day (yes, there’s an app for that), and Ashley turns to her online support network for advice. She considers asking her parents to stay at a nearby hotel if their devil-may-care approach to her name carries on.

Jay thinks Ashley’s parents use people’s names in conversation more frequently than necessary and he asks Ashley about whether her parents may be doubling-up on names out of spite or if that may be part of her parents’ upbringing.

A shopping trip the next day offers a few bright moments that take Ashley by surprise, and she and Jay try to puzzle out this new behavior and how to encourage it in the future.

Ashley introduces Sephora by Opi’s Nail Color Quick Drying Drops and shares a few tidbits around the chemistry of drying nail polish that she’s recently learned. Ashley also talks about a new technique for removing nail polish with only one or two cotton balls (and in as little as 5-10 minutes).

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

The Letter

June 22nd, 2012

Ashley

Ashley has waited for months for her parents to start using the name Ashley instead of her birth name, but they won’t, so she tries to explain her request again in a carefully worded letter. Unfortunately, the letter doesn’t go over well and her parents tell Ashley that she’s hurting them by not considering their point of view.

Ashley’s parents are visiting in a few weeks and she’d love to try a new restaurant with them, but she worries that her parents would out her as soon as they started making small talk with the restaurant staff.

Despite this, Ashley has started the process of legally changing her name, and she tells Jay about all the paperwork, filing fees, and her eventual appearance before a judge, who could potentially decide not to grant her request.

Jay also learns how to get the most out of Too Faced Shadow Insurance eyeshadow primer and a tip on cleaning the lint from one’s dryer screen without scuffing one’s nails.

(Ashley’s 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.)

7 Questions

April 1st, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley answers 7 Questions for the we happy trans project, such as who’s been most supportive of her transition, changes she’d like to see in the world, and how she’s helping to make those changes.

Jay asks how Ashley’s new coworkers are accepting of her gender identity, given that some knew her since before her transition while others have only ever known her as Ashley.

Ashley receives a postcard from her vacationing parents, but they addressed it to her birth name and Ashley can’t bring herself to read it. She wants to talk with them again about calling her Ashley, but worries that her parents could become fatigued on the subject if she were to bring it up too frequently. She and Jay also discuss the unusual evidence her mother cites to try to refute Ashley’s gender identity.

Jay learns that Too Faced Shadow Insurance (an eyeshadow primer) benefits from a little shakey-shake before use, as one would do with a squeeze bottle of ketchup (or with natural peanut butter if you’re fancy). Ashley also discerns that her technique for repainting some nails (but not others) with a zip-top bag requires a new baggie about every six months.

Support Groups

March 16th, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley is frustrated by her parents’ lack of acceptance, and suggests that instead of emphasizing her new happiness to them, she could instead explain how bad she’d feel if she had to return to her life before transition. And if they don’t come around and she tries to bring this up with them, should she try to broach this over the phone or might she have better luck with a letter in the mail?

Jay and Ashley chat about the group sessions organized by her gender therapist that she attends with several other trans women. It’s a cozy supportive environment where they talk about some of the progress the other women in the group have made with their transitions and various ups and downs.

Ashley talks about some of the trans community she’s come across online including the alternating-weeks #transchat and #queerchat each Sunday. Jay asks whether Ashley has come across much cyberbullying and Ashley talks about some of the microaggressions she’s come across in passing.

Ashley offers a follow-up on two makeup products discussed on earlier episodes. Oh, and they veer into talking about nail polish too. Yeah, like that ever happens.

The T Word

February 29th, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley teaches Jay about the nuances and changing meanings of some of the more hurtful slurs directed toward trans folks, with help from GLAAD’s transgender glossary of terms.

Jay asks Ashley to elaborate on what she means when she says she’s “always been a woman” and if that means she regrets not having come out at an earlier point in her life.

Together, they discuss whether it would be feasible to raise a baby as gender neutral until they were old enough to express their gender identity.

They also discuss the nail-protecting power of gloves and Ashley sings a jingle about them. (Caveat: The “gloves song”—all three seconds of it—is only available in the video version of this episode.)

Accept? Yes. Condone? No.

February 15th, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley’s father seems to view her gender therapist as a sort of puppet-master (puppet-mistress?) pulling Ashley’s strings, even though Ashley switched from individual counseling to group support. Ashley’s parents say that they accept what she’s doing, but they make a point of telling her they don’t condone it. Jay thinks it means they now understand it’s not a phase, but Ashley infers it’s more likely that they think she’s crossdressing.

Ashley wonders how to get through to her parents and is nearly ready to give up, especially after her dad says that he doesn’t entirely accept publications like the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) as truth. Ashley also continues to long for any recognition of her femininity from her mom.

Jay and Ashley discuss some fun things as well: her new pierced ears, the ideal diameter for hoop earrings (1.68 inches), using a flatiron, and matching polish precisely by bringing specific clothes to the store. Ashley finishes by describing some nail polish shortcuts and their inherent tradeoffs.

Winter Family Time

January 31st, 2012

Jay Frosting

Ashley visits with family and friends during the yuletide season and her parents obstinately use the wrong name and pronouns for her, creating confusion among some guests. For Ashley, it’s like insisting on using a woman’s married name even after she split with an abusive husband.

During her visit, Ashley’s dad conspicuously mentions that it’s okay if she doesn’t attend mass with the family on Christmas, which makes Ashley wonder if her dad is telegraphing some embarrassment to be seen with her at church. While making sandwiches, her mom lobs Ashley a verbal punch in the gut, seemingly unaware of the weight behind her words.

Ashley tries to remain optimistic her parents will eventually come around but it’s hard to imagine what will lead them toward full support. Ashley’s already feeling anxious about her parents’ upcoming visit in the fall. However, they are surprisingly understanding when Ashley talks to them about her recent layoff.

Jay learns that concealer can be a stand-in for eyeshadow primer in a pinch, and Ashley shows off a nail protein base coat by Nailtiques. Jay also learns what Ashley means when she describes herself as being “thirteen in girl years”.