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.