This post is PART 46 in a guest blogger series following author Rachael's transition from an A.M.A.B (Assigned Male at Birth) individual to that of a self-identified trans woman.
If you are just discovering Queer as me, start the story from the beginning here.
The hardest part that any trans woman will tell you is that estrogen will not soften your voice, nor will it reverse the years of damage done by testosterone poisoning. For those who are able to transition earlier prior to puberty, or are able to use puberty blockers, it will damper down or completely stop secondary sex characteristics from appearing. This includes the deepening of the voice.
Prior to my reparative therapy, my voice was quite high for a guy or more in the normal range for most women. I remember many times that a person calling would ask for my husband or boyfriend. At the time, I wasn’t aware that I had such a high pitch in my voice, but after over a year of extensive testosterone treatment, it had dropped a lot. But of course, I never put the difference in voice with my gender presentation, as again, hindsight is always 20/20.
Part of the medical therapy that you can apply for is voice training. But again, you must have a medical referral to access it. Many Trans women will tell you that they can pass with or without makeup and gendered clothes. But once they speak, unless they have had training in voice, they automatically out themselves. This can make going out and interacting with others extremely difficult, not to mention very dangerous. Men especially can feel like you are trying to trick or trap them, when you are clocked as a transgender woman. So, proper voice technique is essential to living your life without having to worry about your well being.
So, I was able to meet with doctors at the Calgary voice clinic to see if I was able to get back some of what was taken from me. Alas, that wasn’t the case as I found out. But with their help, I was able to learn to push my voice back into the female range. Now I was one of the lucky few that while I lost most of my feminine pitch, it still didn’t drop into the male range. Thank goodness for that. I was in the androgynous range, as they were able to tell me after testing my pitch with a microphone that went inside your nose and rests near your voice box. They would usually put in down your throat, but with my strong gag reflex, it was easier but weird to go the other way.
Because I’m tone deaf, I wasn’t 100% convinced that I could pull this part off. To be honest I thought that I would have to remain mute or talk in whispered tone for the foreseeable future. But after three appointments, and a viewing of my interview I did with Calgary Herald for Calgary Outlink the previous December, the doctor was sure I could learn to change my pitch. With months of vocal training at home and pointers from the doctor, I was very lucky to put a slight change of pitch into my voice. Still, even with all of this hard work, people do still use male pronouns on me, either because of the way I sound or that I don’t “pass” all the time. You would be surprised how painful it is to be misgendered can actually be. You put so much work into looking as close as possible to what society tells you a cis woman should look and act like. To have it all invalidated, well, it can be very demoralizing.
So, practice, practice, practice… as the saying goes.
Editor’s Note: To read Queer as me – Part 47: Shoes, clothes, and so many colours, click here. Or click here to read the previous blog post Queer as me – Part 45: Skin tones and trust. For the latest LSOP blog posts and so much more, make sure to add us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.