Transgender Voice Therapy

Over the last few years a pivotal change has occurred in our society. We have recognized that there are many people among us who identify with a sexual orientation or gender identity that differs from what has been seen as “typical”. This concisous awareness has lead to an increase in equality and rights for the LGBTQ community. And as more people from this community begin to live as their authentic-self the more it becomes apparent that there are gaps in various industries in how we serve individuals whose sexual orientation and/or gender identity differs from perhaps yours or mine.

One area that is greatly lacking is the access to appropriate and affordable resources. Specifically, the individuals who are at the point in their transition when they begin to work towards changing their voice to represent who they truly are.

Our voice is an integral part of our identity. Have you ever caught a nasty upper respiratory infection that resulted in you losing your voice, and when you finally started to be able to vocalize again, there was a period in which you didn’t sound like yourself? I’ve had that experience, and it left me feeling insecure and wondering if my voice would ever return to the same quality that it was before. 

Now imagine a transgender individual who is taking all the steps to begin living their life in their new gender role but they can’t seem to find the voice that best represents who they truely are. In my experience working with this population this can be a devastating experience and a hindrance to the transition process. 

For some individuals the new voice comes easily. For the majority of the transgender population, it’s not as easy and they require the assistance of a professional who can guide them to their genuine and most natural new voice. 

I’ve personally begun exploring various ways to deliever high quality vocal coaching through different modalities: workshops, one to one therapy, online courses, etc. As I explore and develop a program I hope to gather data that will be useful in the field and will equip more speech - language therapists to provide high quality voice care to the transgender people in their community.

 Our profession has its limitations due to lack of knowledge and data to prove our services as efficacious. I believe as the professionals in voice therapy we have two obligations: 

The first is we must begin exploring new and innovative ways to provide resources and care to the transgender population as it relates to their voice & vocal care.

The second is we must collect data and share with each other our anecdotal evidence, our methods, and our results. 

Through our collective efforts we can change the future of transgender voice therapy as we provide effective and evidence based therapy to this community. 

Optimizing Your Voice During Flu Season

Don’t let the flu get the best of your voice!

Your voice is your most powerful tool for communication and with flu season upon us many people will find themselves struggling to regain their most clear and vibrant voice after battling an upper respiratory infection. These infections leave us with swelling in our vocal cords and often inflammation. This results in a voice that can sound breathy or strained. Sometimes we sound harsh and occasionally we lose our voice completely. The following are a few tips to help you care for your voice holistically.

1.Avoid caffeinated drinks!

Caffeinated drinks are often dehydrating. When your vocal cords are swollen, inflamed and tender you should opt to drink hydrating and soothing drinks. Water at any temperature is the best remedy. Some people find adding a slice of lemon and bit of honey to a warm cup of water to be soothing to their throat and vocal cords. Caffeine free teas are another nice option. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate (yes, chocolate is a source of caffeine!)

2.Avoid excessive coughing and throat clearing!

Fight the urge to cough or throat clear. When you cough or clear your throat you are slamming your vocal cords together in an aggressive manner that can result in further swelling and inflammation. When you have the urge to cough or throat clear, grab a glass of water and sip it slowly. When you swallow, be very intentional to swallow hard and clear the tickle in your throat in a gentle manner. Of course on occasion you’ll need to cough or clear your throat. Try to save those times for when it is unavoidable.

3.Use a humidifier!

Using a humidifier or running a hot shower and inhaling the steam can be another great way to bring hydration to your vocal cords. Of course you must exercise caution and not inhale steam directly, but rather indirectly so that you do not burn your throat. Additionally you can opt to add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to your shower, bath or humidifier for that added support to your respiratory system.

4.Rest your vocal cords!

The most critical and effective strategy to regaining your voice is to give it the rest it needs. Luckily in todays modern world we can use texting and email as a way to communicate if we are on strict vocal rest. Although it is challenging to go for days without speaking, try to give yourself a couple hours a day where you just sip your favorite soothing beverage and don’t talk.

5.Don’t whisper!

If you must talk, then do not whisper! Whispering is one of the worst things anyone can do to their tender vocal cords. It is better to speak with your full voice, but at a lower intensity or volume.

Vocal inflammation and swelling is most often caused by an upper respiratory infection but it can also be caused by speaking for too long, yelling at a concert or general poor voice hygiene habits. By enlisting these tools anytime you feel your voice isn’t at its optimal you can help reduce swelling and inflammation. You will hear the improved quality and vibrancy in your voice and you will have your most powerful communication tool once again.

Mindful Voice ©

What is Mindful Voice? Mindful Voice is a holistic approach to vocal wellness and awakening your  multifaceted identity. Your voice serves a physiological, biological and emotional purpose. It is a tool for self - expression and represents your inner most thoughts and emotions. If you are a professional and use your voice in any capacity throughout the day then Mindful Voice is for you. 

The human voice is the vessel on which all emotions travel. And the breath is the captain of that vessel. - Claron McFadden

The principles and methods that are used in Mindful Voice are heavily based on evidence based practices that are used in traditional voice therapy. As a licensed and certificated speech language pathologist I aim to provide best practice approach to the health and well being of your voice. In addition I draw from other fields such as psychology and spiritual care in nursing to address the whole person in a holistic way.  

  • Voice therapy is the first line of treatment for vocal fold lesions like vocal nodules, polyps, or cysts (Johns, 2003; Anderson & Sataloff, 2002). 

  • These lesions often occur in people with vocally intense occupations like teachers, attorneys, or clergyman (Roy et al., 2001). 

  • Another possible cause of these lesions is vocal overdoing often seen in high-energy adults who often speak loudly (Trani et al., 2007; Rubin et al., 2006; Stemple et al., 2000; Boone et al., 2005).

We take great care to sharpen their mind, keep their bodies strong and nourish ourselves with nutrient dense foods. Our voice is an equally important piece of this puzzle on the journey to self actualization and optimization. We should take care of our voice with the same intention that we take care of our mind, body and spirit. 

So what does this method entail? 

  • Sound Meditation 

  • Vocal Function Exercises

  • Guided Visualizations 

  • Vocal Vibrations: Vagus Nerve Stimulation  

  • Breath Work: Diaphragmatic Breathing Principles 

  • Circum - Laryngeal Massage

  • Vocal Identity Awakening

What does your voice communicate to your audience? How do you optimize your voice for optimal performance? Does your voice ever fatigue or fail after a long day of speaking? These and many more questions arise as we work together to address the myriad of layers that make up your identity and your voice. You may be thinking that your voice is a good representation of your true being. Then allow me to help elevate and maintain your vocal health and wellness. You may be thinking that you don’t like how you sound on audio. Then allow me to educate you on how to manipulate and optimize your voice for audio recording. You may be experiencing an acute onset of laryngitis and have been placed on voice rest. Then allow me to teach you to protect your voice from future harm and speed up the healing process. 

"Body language and tone of voice - not words - are our most powerful assessment tools" - Christopher Voss

If you feel you'd benefit from my Mindful Voice protocol then please contact me and let's start a dialogue about how I can serve you!