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 nonconforming, genderqueer – the key to changing your communication style is to find the right combination of speech/voice features that become what I call the three A’s: authentic (what feels true to you), acceptable (what is effective based on the norms 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 can also be utilized, such as resonance and intonation. A more feminine voice sounds smaller, softer, lighter, and more expressive, while a more masculine voice sounds bigger, heavier, and more matter-of-fact.
Regardless of how often you present in your confirming gender, speech/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! If you are transitioning (to whatever extent), you need to be willing to be in limbo as you work on it, similar to other parts of transition. 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 typical feminine and masculine speech/voice, and you have many speech/voice features at your disposal. With help, most people can make changes that make a difference in their lives in terms of comfort, safety, and success in social and professional situations.
It is also important to also realize that transgender people are at risk for voice problems, since manipulating your speech/voice, particularly when not seeking professional help, may be done in a way that invites tension and overworking of the vocal folds. Additionally, all speakers, 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/or a simulated piano keyboard to give you the critical immediate feedback you need to learn new techniques and put them into practice. As a health professional, I 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.
I also do vocal rehabilitation for people who undergo pitch-altering surgery. Keeping in contact with the phonosurgeon, I assist in tracking voice and vocal fold changes, voice rest, and voice exercises that help to speed recovery and maximize results, including pitch, vocal stability, and vocal endurance.