Transgender voice training
Your voice plays a distinct role in embodying gender, and consequently, communication can be a powerful tool for exploring and defining who you are and how people view you. No matter where you identify on the gender spectrum – transfeminine, transmasculine, gender non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, other – the key to changing your communication style is to find the right combination of speech, voice, and language features that become what I call the three A’s: authentic (what feels true to you), acceptable (what is effective based on the norms and expectations of the outside world), and automatic (what becomes easy to perform with less and less mental effort). Pitch is typically the first thing to consider, but additional speech features, such as resonance and intonation, can also be very important and utilized. In most American communities where English is spoken, a more feminine voice is often viewed or described to be smaller, lighter, brighter, and more expressive, while a more masculine voice is often viewed or described to be bigger, heavier, and more matter-of-fact.
Regardless of how often you present in your confirming gender, voice change is almost always possible, and even the smallest of changes can make a difference in your life. Don’t avoid or put off your voice if you don’t like it! As the process begins, you will need to allow your voice to be in limbo until you advance further, much like other parts of transition or gender expression changes. Behavioral voice change usually involves a period of solid practice, experimenting with your voice in real life, and then letting it settle over time. Luckily, there is a big overlap between feminine and masculine norms, and you have many speech, voice, and language features at your disposal. It's a matter of finding the right combination that suits you best. As you learn techniques that are appropriate to you, you will also be continually considering how your new sound/style relates to your view of yourself as you evolve voice-wise and gender-wise. With critical feedback on technical skills as well as voice counseling, professional training can help you get farther faster for improving comfort, safety, and success in social and professional situations.
Vocal health is also an important issue. If you are manipulating your voice without professional guidance, you may be prone to tension, vocal strain, or overworking of the vocal mechanism. Additionally, all speakers, whether transgender and cisgender, can be affected by overall health or certain health conditions, such as acid reflux, environmental allergies, asthma, or even a high amount of stress.
I provide a perceptual-acoustic speech/voice evaluation, including measurements of your exact habitual pitch and pitch range. I can help you identify your existing communication profile, and determine what aspects can be changed or utilized more. In training sessions, I use my trained ear, pitch software, video, a guitar tuner, and other tools to give you the critical immediate feedback you need to learn new techniques and put them into practice. I will likely have many discussions with you regarding how you are experiencing your voice, how it fits with your identity, and how to deal with various speaking situations as they arise. As a health professional, I also take a serious approach to vocal health by considering your overall health, vocal load, and vocal habits, and I perform videostroboscopy to rule out any vocal fold problems that may or may not affect training.