Affirming Voice Training
for many people, the journey to becoming comfortable with your own body can be a difficult one. not everyone may wish to modify their voice, but for those whose voice decreases their quality of life, gender affirming vocal training is a safe, individualized, and evidence-based option. we will work with you and your unique goals to help you achieve voice euphoria! we are trained in culturally sensitive and inclusive practices to guide our clients towards an available voice that allows them to freely express themselves as they choose.
quick page jumps:
why pursue gender affirming voice training?
it's important to note that everyone's reasons for seeking gender affirming voice training may differ. our job is to help you reach your own goals. some of the benefits of vocal training include:
the opportunity to improve confidence in expressing your gender identity
increased alignment of your outward appearance and inward sense of self
to help reduce voice dysphoria and increase comfort across settings
individualized training tailored to your instrument (your voice!)
of the utmost importance, your validity as a transperson is not dependent on whether or not your voice matches your outward appearance, which is also true for non-binary/genderfluid/genderqueer folks. we would like you to be happy with your voice rather than
try to meet cis-normative voice standards.
Our experience of gender is no more or less pathological than that of ‘mainstream’ society… We have a right to live in a body that matches our self-image and deep desires without someone else being the gatekeeper to our experience.
–Florence Ashley, transfeminine jurist and bioethicist
are there possible drawbacks to pursuing gender affirming voice training?
like with any new practice or treatment, there can be potential challenges associated with gender affirming voice training. some of these can include:
time and effort: voice training can be a time-consuming and demanding process, requiring consistent effort and practice over an extended period of time.
cost: we recognize that our services can be costly, though we promise to try our best to work with you and figure out a way for you to obtain our services if you choose to seek them. this could look like sessions twice a month, once a month, or even once every 3 months. further, we are always willing to work out a payment plan that best fits your financial needs. we do not want to keep you from experiencing your own voice euphoria.
emotional stress: the process of changing your voice has the potential to be emotionally challenging and could trigger feelings of anxiety, frustration, or self-doubt.
stigma and discrimination: despite increasing awareness and acceptance of the transgender community, trans individuals may still face stigma and discrimination, and changing one's voice can bring additional attention and scrutiny.
it's important to keep in mind that these potential challenges are often outweighed by the many benefits of gender affirming voice training.
what do we focus on in gender affirming voice training?
vocal hygiene includes habits and routines that are healthy for your voice. good vocal hygiene is encouraged for all people who use their voices often, including singers, teachers, coaches, etc. but is especially important for people trying to use their voice in a way that is new to them. during gender affirming voice training, it is imperative that vocal hygiene is followed so you do not damage your voice or cause discomfort.
download our free vocal hygiene handout >>>
this technique is important to use for being gentle on your vocal cords. a quick run down for straw voicing: place a straw between your closed lips and practice singing low-to-high notes and some of your favorite songs through the straw. thanks to physics, this extra distance for air flow takes pressure off of your vocal cords and naturally decreases tension felt in the throat. watch the video below for more detailed and multi-step practice techniques.
pitch is the perceived highness or lowness of a sound and is closely related to the frequency of the sound wave. pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz) and our pitches are produced by the vibrations of our vocal folds in our larynx ("voice box"). pitch training focuses on helping people healthily modify the pitch of their voice to better align with their gender identity.
pitch training includes breathing and musical exercises, ear training (learning to hear a specific note/pitch), as well as guided practice in speaking with your desired pitch. (and no- you don't have to know how to sing or "have a good singing voice" to learn how to manipulate your pitch!)
intonation refers to the variations in pitch and emphasis used when speaking, which helps to convey meaning and emotion. voice training can help with intonation in several ways:
- improving pitch control: voice training can help to improve your pitch control when speaking, allowing you to more effectively change the pitch of your voice to convey meaning and comfortably express your emotions.
- developing a more natural speaking rhythm in your chosen voice.
- expanding expressive range: intonation training can help you to expand your expressive range by teaching you to use specific patterns of emphasis and other elements of intonation in new and more nuanced ways.
vocal hygiene refers to the practice of taking care of your voice and preserving its health. maintaining good vocal hygiene is an important aspect of voice training and can help prevent vocal strain, damage, and hoarseness.
here are some of the steps that we typically recommended for vocal hygiene:
stay hydrated: drinking plenty of water is crucial for maintaining good vocal health. staying hydrated helps to keep the vocal cords moist and reduces the risk of strain and damage.
avoid irritants: avoid smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, and exposure to other irritants, such as harsh chemicals and pollutants, that can harm the vocal cords.
warm-up: before speaking or singing, it is important to warm up the voice by doing some light vocal exercises. this can help to prevent strain and injury and improve vocal quality.
avoid overuse: try to avoid talking or singing for long periods of time, especially at high volumes. if you need to speak or sing for extended periods, take regular breaks to give your voice a rest.
avoid yelling: yelling or shouting can cause significant strain to the vocal cords. if you need to raise your voice, try to do so in a controlled manner, using proper breathing techniques.
use proper breathing: good breathing techniques can help to support the voice and reduce the risk of strain and injury. during speech therapy, you may learn proper breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, that can help you to use your voice more efficiently.
maintain good posture: good posture can help to support the voice and reduce the risk of strain and injury. stand up straight and maintain an open and relaxed posture, with your shoulders back and chest lifted.
by following these steps, you can help to maintain good vocal hygiene and reduce the risk of vocal strain and injury. however, it is important to keep in mind that everyone's voice is unique, and that the best approach to vocal hygiene will vary from person to person. your speech therapist can work with you to develop a vocal hygiene plan that is tailored to your specific needs and goals.
resonance training is an important aspect of voice training. resonance refers to the way sound vibrations are amplified and modified by the cavities in the head and neck, affecting the "texture" of the sound you produce. resonance helps to create the unique vocal quality of an individual's voice.
what we can practice during training:
understanding your own resonance patterns that you already have and create a pathway to your desired goal.
targeted resonance training for you to help you adjust the resonating cavities in your head and neck to achieve the vocal qualities you want. this can involve exercises to improve resonance control and training to develop a different resonating pattern.
working with specific language sounds, such as vowel sounds, to help you develop resonance patterns to achieve your preferred sound.
want to practice at home?
here are a few good videos to watch as you play around with your resonance:
what is non-binary voice training?
Non-binary voice training is similar to the process laid out above because it focuses on helping you find a voice that feels authentic. as a non-binary individual, you may understand how male and female vocal norms can create pressure to conform to gender-based speech patterns and vocal characteristics that you don't identify with. as such, you may wish to feminize, masculinize, androgenize, or completely decategorize your voice. because there are many variations within non-binary identities and individual voice goals, we can't make any broad statements about what voice therapy would look like for you. we encourage you to read through the sections above regarding some of the areas we focus on, as they would likely apply to you as well. we are happy to give you more detail in a free consultation, so please contact us to ask your questions!
we know that is a lot of information. it can be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting, but you do not have to live with voice dysphoria. whether you are sure or unsure if you want to pursue services with us, we encourage you to book a free consultation so we can help answer your specific questions.
you get to define yourself and your voice; the choice you make is valid.