Gender Affirming Voice Training for Gender Diverse Speakers

The way you speak plays a distinct role in embodying your gender. Because of that, your communication can be a powerful tool for exploring and defining who you are and how people view you. No matter where you identify along the gender spectrum – transfeminine, transmasculine, non-binary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, bi-gender, other – the key to successfully modifying the gendered aspects of your communication is to find the right combination of speech, voice, and language features that suit your sense of self and help you to achieve your goal(s) and improve your quality of life. You may need to reduce any possible voice dysphoria and/or be gendered correctly by others when communicating with them. You may have other goals or have specific objectives to speak differently only in particular situations with particular people.

Three criteria, can sometimes apply when adopting communication techniques that are right for you – finding techniques that are 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-perceived voice is often viewed or described to be lighter, brighter, and more expressive, while a more masculine-perceived voice is often viewed or described to be heavier, bigger, and more matter-of-fact.

This doesn’t mean that all women always speak one way and all men always speak another way. Many factors come into play: body size, age, social situation, social status, topic of conversation, region of the country, and others. A person often speaks slightly differently across different situations. Many people can sound quite different from each other but still all be within a so-called feminine or masculine range. If you aim to speak within a certain range, speaking training can help you do that while also finding a way to be uniquely you within that range. And with confidence and resilience. Gender can be a tricky thing for anyone of any gender, often with negative stereotypes and unfair assumptions.

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 as well as experimenting with your voice in real life when possible, and then letting it settle over time. As you learn techniques that are appropriate to you, you will also be continually considering how your new sound relates to your view of yourself as your presentation evolves voice-wise and gender-wise. Because of that, training is not completely about practicing technical skills. It’s also about discussing how to OWN your new skills in your head and heart, and address any fears or mental obstacles that may get in the way of progress.

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 of any gender can be affected by overall health or certain health conditions, such as acid reflux, environmental allergies, asthma, or even a high amount of stre

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