Transgender Voice Modification & Therapy
Are you a transgender individual who’s begun transitioning?
If so, you know how difficult a road it can be.
Modern science has come a long way in our understanding of gender, and we can reverse many of the ill effects of going through a puberty that doesn’t fit with who you know yourself to be.
Hormones and surgeries may help you feel more comfortable in your body, but you may still feel uncomfortable with your voice.
If passing as a cis man or woman is your goal, one of the biggest things that can stand in the way is your voice. What’s more, if the sound of your voice triggers a bout of dysphoria, you may have difficulty expressing yourself. This may hold you back from achieving your full potential in your personal life or your career.
We’ll help you establish a goal for your voice, and work with you to achieve that goal.
District Speech can help.
Before We Start
When you read this page, you’ll find a lot of language is couched around the idea of “passing” as your gender, and having a voice that’s congruent with your gender. For many trans people, being able to pass as your gender in cisgender society is important. However, your validity as a trans person is not dependent on whether or not you can pass. This is especially true for non-binary folks, for whom passing is a more complicated subject.
It’s also important to note that our practice is made up of cisgender therapists, and as a result we can never have a full understanding of your experience as a transgender person. We’ve done our best to consult with transgender people to help improve our service to the community, which includes hiring a transgender writer to write what you read on this page.
It’s not our intention to explain your experience to you, only to offer a service which may help you with a common concern trans people face.
Vocal Masculinization Training For Transgender Men
If you’re a transgender man or a trans-masculine individual, you may be considering hormone replacement therapy as a way to stave off any gender dysphoria you may feel. This can help you develop the male secondary sex characteristics that can communicate your gender and make you feel more comfortable in your own body.
Your body fat will redistribute, you’ll grow more body hair, your skin will become oilier, and your muscle strength and mass will increase. You’ll also start growing facial hair, which some trans men describe as the most gender-affirming aspect of HRT.
Most important for our purposes, your voice will deepen. This can be affirming in itself, but it’s more complicated than that.
The most important elements of speech are pitch, tone, and speech patterns. Fortunately for trans men and trans masculine folks, testosterone will thicken your vocal cords which will naturally deepen your pitch. The same benefit doesn’t happen in the other direction, so that’s one thing at least trans men can be grateful for.
However, a deeper pitch will only go so far to masculinize your voice. Your tone and speech patterns will still likely resemble a woman’s, unless you work on them.
When it comes to communication, pitch is one way to communicate gender, but it’s not the only way.
Consider Richard Simmons, the famous fitness instructor from the 80’s. Listen to his voice in the video below. While you’d never consider his voice particularly masculine, it’s still unmistakably a man’s voice.
Likewise, consider Toni Braxton’s voice in the video below, for the (unintentionally ironically named) song “He Wasn’t Man Enough”. Her voice is deeper than most women, but it’s still a woman’s voice.
So what can you do?
Tone And Speech Pattern Training For Trans Men
The idea of vocal tone refers to the general pattern of words coming out of your mouth. It’s the spaces between the words, the variations in volume, how quickly or slowly you speak, and even your hand gestures or body language.
These, combined with the natural decrease in your vocal pitch from testosterone, will create a more typically masculine voice.
This is where your speech therapist can help. By addressing the parts of your speech which may be read as traditionally feminine, you can achieve a voice that better matches your gender.
Contact us today to find out how.
Vocal Feminization Training For Transgender Women
If you’re a trans woman or trans-feminine person who was assigned male at birth, there’s a lot hormone replacement therapy can do for you. It can develop secondary female sex characteristics, giving you more feminine curves and breasts. It can reduce body hair growth, soften your skin, and in many ways make you feel more at home in your body.
One thing it does not affect, though, is your voice. When you go through testosterone-induced puberty, your vocal cords thicken. Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy won’t thin them. No matter how successful your transition may be from a hormonal perspective, your vocal cords are what they are.
However, there is hope. By working with a speech therapist, you can help your voice become more congruent with your gender identity.
It’s Not Just About Pitch
If you’re like most trans women, you’ve done exhaustive research on transitioning and what it means. You’ve spent countless hours watching YouTube videos, reading articles, or speaking into a voice pitch analyzer app to obsess over how your voice sounds and whether or not it will be able to pass as female.
If pitch were all there is to it, it would be simple – just speak like Mickey Mouse all the time, and you’re set. But while pitch is a piece of the pie, it’s only a piece. There’s a lot more to a traditionally feminine voice than simply a high pitch.
That’s not to say pitch isn’t important. There are techniques that can improve your pitch, which we can help you with. But pitch alone won’t solve your vocal woes.
So What Is It About?
From a voice training perspective, it’s far more important to focus on your tone and speech patterns.
What does that mean? By tone and speech patterns, we’re talking about the musicality of your voice. It’s the different notes your voice hits while you speak, where you place the pauses in your speech, your pacing, the emphasis you put on certain words. It can even touch on some of the gestures you make.
These elements all communicate something different and specific. They can communicate emotion, meaning, and for many, your gender.
If you were socialized male as a child, regardless of how uncomfortable or difficult it may have been, you were encouraged to emulate the men in your life. This may have been a subconscious push or an obvious suggestion, but either way you’ve picked up a number of vocal habits which will communicate “male-ness” to whomever is listening.
The good news is, through voice feminization therapy, you can learn to communicate in a way that alters these speech habits and communicates your gender more congruently.
Contact us to book a consultation today.
Voice Therapy For Non-Binary Folks
An increasing number of people are openly identifying as neither men nor women. The term non-binary can be considered a gender identity itself, but it’s also an umbrella term that refers to a wide variety of gender identities.
If you’re non-binary, you may find your gender identity existing somewhere between the traditional male/female dichotomy or outside of it altogether.
Because there is so much variation in non-binary experiences, it’s more difficult to make broad statements about voice therapy for non-binary folks like we did with trans men and women above. So while trans women typically want a more feminine-perceived voice, and trans men a more masculine-perceived voice, there’s no specific non-binary voice.
Some non-binary folks may want to achieve a more feminine- or masculine-perceived voice, while others may opt for a more androgynous register. Whatever your goal is, District Speech can help.
We’ll assess your current status, work with you to understand your voice goals, and put together a treatment plan designed to get you there.
The District Speech Approach
Regardless of your gender identity, District Speech can help.
We’ll start by establishing what your goals are. This may be the voice of a celebrity or public figure you admire, or simply a declaration of what you want to work toward. Whether your goals are nebulous or specific, we can work with you to hone in on them.
From there, we’ll establish your current base line. We’ll take detailed notes of various aspects of your speech, including your tone, resonance, rate, pitch, volume, or nonverbal sounds like laughing or coughing.
At that point, we’ll understand where you want to go, and where you’re starting. This gives us a road map toward your goals.
Often, transgender voice therapy can be a stressful, emotional experience. You may feel anxious, overwhelmed, or even ashamed of where you’re starting. We strive to create a space where you can feel safe and at ease to practice your vocal techniques.
By working together, the speech therapists at District Speech can help you alter your voice to better match your gender. This can help you attain greater confidence in day-to-day life, protect you from violence in less liberal areas, stave off the feelings of dysphoria you may be facing, and help you move toward a physical presence congruent with how you feel inside.
If you’re struggling with transgender voice therapy issues, you’re not alone. The good news, though, is that the majority of trans people can see significant improvements through speech therapy.
Book Your Consultation Today
Contact District Speech for your consultation today, and find out how we can help you.
Piece by piece, we’ll work through what you need to do to attain a voice that’s congruent with your gender, all while addressing the emotional concerns that pop up along the way.
Book your appointment with District Speech today, and start working toward the voice you’ve always dreamed of having.
Contact us today to find out how.