January 31st, 2016
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.
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.)
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.)
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.)
April 1st, 2012
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.
February 15th, 2012
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.
January 31st, 2012
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”.
January 16th, 2012
Over Thanksgiving, Ashley’s parents reveal that they still misunderstand her transgender status, claiming that she’s cross-dressing and that she’s making her coworkers uncomfortable. Her parents also wonder if Ashley’s gender therapist is putting ideas in her head, and worry that keeping and finding employment will get harder for Ashley.
Ashley attempts to talk with her dad about some recent MRI studies indicating that transgender status is likely rooted in biology—that transgender people are born that way—but the information is quickly swatted aside by her dad’s cognitive dissonance.
Ashley explains that her favorite top coat, Seche Vite, works best when immediately applied on top of the second coat (before the second coat even starts to dry) and she passes along a technique that you can use to selectively remove nail polish from only a few nails without affecting the rest of your manicure.
(Ashley’s polish in this episode is Wicked from Essie. We aren’t being paid to say this — just thought maybe you’d like to know.)
November 21st, 2011
Ashley talks about her parents’ recent visit and how she asked them to consider calling her Ashley rather than her birth name.
She also recounts the reprimand she received from her employer for using the bathrooms matching her gender presentation rather than those of the gender she was assigned at birth. Ashley struggles to grasp her employer’s rationalizations, but she resigns herself to workdays blighted by elevator slogs to restrooms on different floors.
Jay follows up on his earlier suggestion that Ashley buy some “girly glasses” and asks whether HRT has tempted her to drink more so-called “girly drinks” (even though Jay admits there’s no logic to that question). Ashley announces her nail polish bottle count and suggests a way to trade some of her lesser-used polishes in exchange for others she might rather have.
Ashley talks about which polish she finally decided to wear during her parents’ visit, Nite Owl from Orly’s “Birds of a Feather” collection, a taupe with just enough shimmer to keep things interesting. Ashley also espouses the value of the common cotton swab and makes the case for Johnson’s brand over Q-tips for this tiny but essential makeup tool.
September 17th, 2011
Ashley had come out to many of her friends and a few coworkers, but hadn’t yet come out to her family. She knew that was her next step.
You can play either the audio or video versions below.