TRANSGENDER VOICE AND THE WORKPLACE
As a Vocal Coach who specializes in all area of the voice, I rotate my themes between the singing voice and the speaking voice. This is about the transgender speaking voice, voice feminization and masculinization and the workplace.
First, let’s talk about common steps people take to transition their voice. Then, we will roll up our sleeves and learn about transgender voice in the workplace. So grab a drink, put up your feet, and let’s get started!
The outside world first sees and judges us based on external stuff, like the style of clothing we wear, our mannerisms, and by our voice, the sound and delivery of it. To the transgender person in the workplace, ideas about who they are as a competent employee and co-worker, is partially communicated through the voice. Superficial as it may be, that is a reality for many people trying to get jobs, start businesses and excel in careers.
For many, on a personal level, hearing back something that does not belong with their true gender identity is often something they feel a deep internal need to transition right along with the rest of themselves. To that I say FANTASTIC!!!
So what does that mean for someone whose birth gender voice is one thing but their true identity is something else? It means they have an opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery to experience their most fabulous self, through the expression of their voice.
When someone wants to transition their voice they do common things such as:
None of those things are actually terribly bad. Using your voice is always better than having an inactive voice, but you will not be able to make the pitch changes or bring out the tone qualities you want by just doing a bunch of vocal scales and breathing exercises.
Historically, people developed their voice by doing vocal scales/exercises. This is classified by voice doctors as a “symptomatic” approach. In other words, if you want a higher range, you do exercises to increase your range allowing you to have higher notes. If your voice is weak, you do scales that make it stronger. If you feel you do not have enough air, you do breathing exercises. We now know, through science, how incomplete that is.
Focusing on the symptom is like perfecting the skill of blowing your nose because you have a runny nose instead of dealing with why it is happening, such as having a weak immune system or being in an environment that is unhealthy for you. You can practice the best nose blowing techniques in the world, but the moment you stop the heavy regimen, the same old thing comes back. You go between having on days and off days. You want to avoid this, so your voice transition is maintained throughout your entire lifetime.
A “symptomatic” approach is only “one out of four components” needed for full vocal function. The four components that are absolutely necessary for everyone are symptomatic, physiologic, hygienic and psychogenic. You get the “why”, the “what” and everything “in-between”. It is complete!
When one part of the voice is not being used properly, other parts kick in to pick up the slack. So how do you think your voice will come out if only one of the four components is used? If you said in an imbalanced forced way rather than an authentic sounding and relaxed way, you are right.
Being a confident woman in her work environment does not mean you have to leave behind all the substance of your male birth gender voice to replace it with all soft tones. It also does not mean that people who transitioned to a male need to have a tough delivery. A man can sound masculine but also be warm and approachable while being highly effective as a professional. Being the leader you want to be in the workplace does not mean you have to compromise yourself. It is about knowing who you are and the direction you want your career to go in.
Your workplace and career choices may influence the kind of voice you want to have too. Some people have a lot of flexibility while others have a rigid work environment they need to fit into, in order to get ahead. All of these things need to be considered.
A good transgender voice program will cover many topics. Your “must have” list includes:
Understanding the separate parts of your specific voice, such as pitch and tone, and how it relates to the feminine and masculine, is the beginning. 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.
I hope you have found this encouraging and something that will bring you one step closer to discovering more of your authentic voice!
Until next time…………….
Voice and Performance Coach - The Forefront of Voice Training, Author, Singer, Speaker
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Voice and Performance Coach
Singing and Speaking Voice