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Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2017 11:17 PM


Transgender voice transition, or voice feminization and voice masculinization, refers to a non-surgical development process used to modify the human voice. The transition is from either a male sounding voice to a female sounding voice, or a female sounding voice to a male sounding voice.

To talk about Transgender Voice Feminization and Masculinization it is important to understand what “transgender” is and is not. Transgender is a term used to express a person’s gender identity. That identity is not based on their assigned sex as it relates to their external physical body at birth but rather is an understanding of one’s genuine internal identity. To be transgender is to align the internal self-image and expression with the external appearance, not matching one’s birth sex.

Individuals who transition their voice do so to bring out different characteristics and establish a delivery style that more closely matches their personal identity. This can be done for their own sense of well-being and as a new way of presenting themselves in society.

When working with someone on transgender voice transition, the whole person is taken into consideration, not just the voice, to condition and maintain their new feminine or masculine qualities.

The transgender person has an end goal in mind and knows how they would like to interact with others. Transgender voice transition is based on the individual’s starting point, which involves everything from their history such as genetics, behaviours like dietary practices, to emotional habits such as depression, anxiety, and anger, along with voice and speaking techniques. These factors impact the proper or improper use of the vocal muscles. With the beginning and ending in mind, the voice modification begins.

Surgery can be performed to alter the pitch of the voice. It does not, however, address the vibration and other vocal characteristics used during communication. For that reason, transgender people will often seek out private coaching post-op to learn how to use their voice differently, self-monitor their vocal qualities, and understand how to best present themselves and their new voice to those around them.

Specific areas of focus include breath, tone, non-surgical pitch modification, sound modification, articulation, delivery, proper use of the voice, and long-term maintenance.

A common question I am asked is, “What is pitch?” Pitch is a sound that comes from your voice. Pitch happens when we initiate the movement of the vocal cords. That movement causes vibrations to begin when we have a thought. That thought could be spoken or sung. A thought starts the vibration and is held as long or as short as the person is able to hold it.

Pitch is nothing more than what the ear hears when the vocal cords are in use. Pitch, in reality, does not really exist as we may think it would. If the vocal cords are being used, what the person hears is the pitch. Because pitch relates to what we hear, there is nothing we can do to make it happen. We cannot control what we hear. We simply hear it.

Okay, let’s try it out! Think of the song “Happy Birthday.” Now, sing it silently in your head. Next, sing it out loud. The pitches you heard when you sang it silently in your head were probably the same pitches you sang when you sang it out loud. What you sang were the pitches you thought first. If you do not think them, you cannot sing them. Hmmm, interesting!

Understanding the separate parts of your specific voice, such as pitch, and how it relates to the feminine and masculine, is the beginning of self-exploration and self-discovery. You gain heightened levels of awareness allowing for broader avenues of voice development, modification, and, ultimately, expression.

The technical side of voice transition coupled with the delivery integral to the individual is truly a labour of love, with great personal satisfaction rewards as the minimum.

Call to talk about your voice and begin your personalized voice program. You’ll be glad you did!

Donna Flynn
Vocal Coach

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