It’s been years of bubbling beneath the surface, but you’ve finally decided to begin transitioning.
You’ve always known you were a woman, and now you’re taking the steps you need to take to make sure what’s on the outside reflects what you’ve always known on the inside.
If voice training is something you’ve wanted to do, you might want to consider seeing a speech therapist for transgender voice training.
However, if you’re more interested in a do it yourself approach, read on.
Why Do Transgender Voice Training For Trans Women?
If you’re a transgender woman or trans feminine nonbinary person, you might wonder why you need to do voice training.
And the truth is, you don’t need to.
Everybody has different goals and desires for their transitions.
If your goals involve feminizing your voice, we’re happy to provide that support here at District Speech.
But if you’re comfortable with your voice the way it is, there’s no reason why you should feel you have to change it.
There’s no one way to be transgender, and nobody can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
We’re not here to tell you how to transition, only to offer support in your transition for when it comes to your voice, if that’s something you want for yourself.
Speech Therapy For Transgender Women
That’s true, but there’s more to it than that.
One is with accent modification, and another is to help transgender people modify their voices.
The Elements Of Speech
Before we begin, let’s take a look at the different elements that make up your voice, and what gives it a distinctly “feminine” feel.
What Is Vocal Pitch?
First is pitch – essentially, how high or low your voice is.
For a high-pitched voice, think of Mickey Mouse, and a low-pitched voice, think Darth Vader.
Of course, there are women with both high pitched and low pitched voices as well.
Ariana Grande, for example, has a voice with a higher pitch than average, while Lana Del Rey and Kathleen Turner (the voice of Jessica Rabbit) are quite a bit deeper.
Pitch is based on the length of your vocal cords.
The longer your cords are, the deeper your voice will be.
What Is Vocal Resonance?
Next is resonance, which is the intensity or quality of the sound your voice makes.
This quality depends on where in your windpipe your voice resonates from.
There are six different spots where your voice can resonate – your larynx, pharynx, mouth, nasal cavity, upper skull cavity, and your chest.
Every sound you make will resonate off of each of these areas to a certain extent, but you can control to a certain extent where your voice resonates more than other areas.
Your chest cavity is most commonly associated with deeper resonance.
It’s where your body produces the lowest vibrations.
If your body is a stereo system, think of your chest cavity like a subwoofer.
Meanwhile, your upper skull cavity is where the higher vibrations come from.
Sometimes called “head voice”, it’s where singers go when they’re singing in falsetto.
What Is Vocal Intonation?
Your vocal intonation has to do with how your speech flows.
There are many different forms of intonation your voice can take.
You might be monotone – keeping roughly the same pitch and resonance during your speeches.
Tennis player Andy Murray is considered to have a monotone voice, and so is Alan Rickman in most of his performances, and Kristen Stewart’s performance in the Twilight films.
Or it could be more melodic voice, like Audrey Hepburn.
Cheerful? Gruff? Annoyed? Each of these can be communicated through intonation.
Bad News And Good News
So each of the above factors has an influence on whether your voice will be perceived as masculine or feminine.
The bad news is there’s not a whole lot you can do about your pitch.
Testosterone dominated puberty lengthens your vocal cords, and as we mentioned above the longer your vocal cords, the deeper your voice tends to be.
The good news though is that pitch is only one of the factors that affect how your voice is perceived.
How To Feminize Your Pitch
The above said, there are ways to feminize your pitch as much as possible.
Try creating the deepest sound you can with your voice.
If it helps, try speaking along with the scene below.
From there, try creating the highest sound you can with your voice.
It might help to sing along to some 80s hair metal, when falsetto voices were more popular
In general, women are perceived to have higher pitches than men.
But that doesn’t mean you should push your voice to speak in as high a pitch as possible.
After all, if that was the case you’d just have to talk like Mickey Mouse and that would be the end of it.
But despite having one of the most high-pitched voices out there, nobody listens to Mickey Mouse and perceives his voice to be a woman’s voice.
If you can push your voice to be on the lower end of the average woman’s voice, it will help.
However, as mentioned above, there’s not much you can do about your pitch range.
How To Feminize Your Resonance
On the other hand, there’s more you can do to feminize your resonance.
Let’s go back to our previous exercise – do your best Darth Vader imitation.
Put your hand on your chest as you speak, just above your breasts.
Do you feel the vibration?
That’s the vocal resonance within your chest cavity.
Now switch to the hair metal voice, and keep your hands on your chest.
Notice the difference?
If you’re doing it right, you shouldn’t be able to feel any vibration at all.
That’s the difference in resonance between your chest cavity and your upper skull cavity.
There’s more to it than just this, but getting used to speaking with resonance in your upper skull cavity vs. your chest cavity will make a big difference.
How To Feminize Your Intonation
Intonation is actually the part of speech you have the most control over.
Above we referred to Alan Rickman as an example of someone who speaks with a monotone intonation.
In general, monotone voices are considered to be more masculine.
This isn’t always the case, and there’s a lot of wiggle room with it.
Kristen Stewart, for example, is considered to be fairly monotone when she was in the Twilight films, and whatever criticism folks might have of her performance in those films, nobody said she sounded like a man.
Anyway, voices are considered to be more feminine when they have more of a singsong quality to them.
Consider Alan Rickman’s voice in this interview:
Even despite how much fun he’s having in the interview, his vocal intonation doesn’t change very much.
Contrast that with this video, with Kelly Clarkson interviewing Christina Aguilera.
Notice how much their voices change in pitch, tone, pace, and general delivery.
This is the mark of a more feminine sounding voice.
Spend some time listening to some interviews with women who have more feminine sounding voices, and try to imitate their intonation.
It’s A Combination
Now, if your goal is to not be misgendered on the phone, consider that each of the above elements plays a role.
Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, for example, has a more feminine intonation, as do many men with what’s perceived to be a stereotypically gay voice, but he still sounds like a man.
Meanwhile, Lauren Bacall has a much lower pitch than the average woman, and yet her voice is still unmistakably feminine.
It’s only by combining all three of the above factors that you can achieve a passably feminine voice.
Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today
If you’re interested in finding out more about transgender voice training for trans women, book an appointment with us at District Speech today.
We’ll be by your side during your entire vocal transition process, helping you achieve the voice you want in a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere.
We provide virtual teletherapy speech therapy appointments as well for your convenience.
Book your appointment with us today.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
Washington, DC 20005
District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.