It is estimated that around 1 in 11,500 people suffer from gender dysphoria. And while many of these will never seek help, the number of people officially receiving a diagnosis is on the rise. Perhaps due in part to society becoming more aware and accepting of the condition.
But that doesn’t make the process of seeking help, obtaining appropriate treatment and ultimately transitioning, any easier for the individual.
The role of speech therapy in supporting transition
As a speech and language therapist, I’ve worked with numerous transwomen in order to support them through the transition process. Many of them tell me that voice modification is one of the most important aspects of their treatment as it has a key role in helping them to reduce levels of anxiety and to fit into society. It can also help to reduce the amount of discrimination they sadly face.
While transmen generally find that the testosterone they are given lowers the pitch of their voice naturally, transwomen tend to need additional support. The oestrogen taken to feminise the body, unfortunately has no impact on the pitch of the voice. If they wish to make changes to their voice (which of course there is absolutely no reason they must) the only option is vocal training.
Unfortunately, access to speech and language therapists who are experienced to offer this treatment can depend very much on where you live. Due to the rapid rise in individuals seeking support, as well as a lack of speech and language therapists with the appropriate experience and supervision, there are increased waiting times for those who need it.
How does voice feminisation work?
Unfortunately. there are no short cuts when it comes to feminising your voice. It generally comes down to repetition and practice. However, there are tried and tested techniques that can make your practise more effective and help you to see results sooner.
Some of my patients are surprised to find that feminising the voice is not all about pitch. It’s to do with breath support, resonance, articulation and volume too. The patterns within a woman’s voice are different to those of a man’s, and dynamically they have a much bigger range between the highest highs and the lowest lows of their speech. But feminisation can even go as far as learning to use different words and grammar structures, as well as different body language – a vital part of communication.
The good news is all these things can be worked on and changed over time. In fact, one of the most useful things you can do is practise listening, copying and recording your voice, repeating the same exercises over and over again. And making gradual improvements. It’s about creating muscle memory and fine-tuning the voice like an actor or singer who practises in order to change the way they use their voice.
So what should you do if you have to wait for treatment?
Firstly, if you’re struggling mentally or emotionally there are lots of support groups you can contact. Stonewall.org.uk provides a comprehensive list of LGBT+ inclusive organisations in the UK that you can get in touch with for help and support whenever you need it. And GLAAD has a directory of transgender resources in the US. You’ll find equivalent bodies, dedicated to fighting for equal rights and supporting minority groups, in many other countries too.
In terms of your voice though, there are plenty of simple exercises you can do, and techniques you can learn, to get you started on the process of voice feminisation.
Try the Christella VoiceUp app
Arguably the best way to get started, in a structured way, from the comfort and safety of your own home, is with the use of the Christella VoiceUp app. An app designed by Speechtools in partnership with the UK’s leading speech and language therapist in transgender voice, Christella Antoni.
Split into three courses, beginner, intermediate and advanced, this globally-available app allows you to work through over two hours of content per course, at your own pace. Although we recommend you practise for at least 10 minutes per day. Even better, each lesson is modelled by Christella herself to ensure you can be completely confident about what’s expected. Together the three stages provide a complete course in how to feminise the voice.
The Christella VoiceUp app has appeared in the media numerous times, is recommended by GenderGP.com and has been praised by individuals and clinicians alike. In fact it’s now been downloaded worldwide over ? times.
Offering a clear SLT voice program to follow, along with built in assessment and monitoring tools, you can easily keep a check of your progress. And you can even measure the change in pitch of your voice over time, boosting confidence and helping you see just how far you’ve come.
If you’d like to know more about how the Christella VoiceUp app can help you feminise your voice contact us, we’re always happy to chat. Alternatively, if you fancy taking it for a test drive you get one free lesson at the start of each course so why not simply download the app and see how you get on with it?