Gender affirming voice training helps you access your authentic voice–a voice that aligns with your true gender identity and inner sense of self. Also referred to as transgender voice therapy or transgender voice and communication training, it is a holistic, nonsurgical intervention to change a person’s voice and style of communicating.
Some people want to feminize their voice–to explore what they perceive to be feminine voice, speech, and communication. You may be wondering if voice feminization is possible. Let’s take a look at voice feminization, how it works, and who it can help.
Why explore vocal feminization?
Voice feminization is also referred to as MTF (male-to-female) voice training. It involves learning techniques to feminize your voice without surgery.
Vocal feminization is often thought to be the same thing as pitch elevation–how high or low a voice sounds. Finding the right pitch for you is important, and it’s a great place to start! However, there are many other aspects of voice and communication that can be explored in MTF voice training.
The voice is a reflection of our whole self. It’s a key to our identity.
Our voice has many facets, and finding your voice can have both literal and figurative meanings. The voice is a reflection of our whole self. It’s a key to our identity. When we hear the sound of a person’s voice, we gain quite a bit of information about them. That’s why voice is such an important area for any individual exploring their authentic self.
It’s important to note that each person has a unique set of reasons for seeking vocal feminization. Some want to feminize their voice for safety reasons. Some may need vocal feminization for professional or performance needs. Other people may seek MTF voice training to support their mental health and well-being.
A whole-person, holistic view of the voice is highly recommended when exploring your authentic voice. Transgender voice therapy should take place with an experienced speech therapist who specializes in this therapy, in an affirming environment, with great sensitivity and care.
What does therapy for voice feminization involve?
You can feminize your voice without surgery. In terms of physical voice, the following areas are commonly targeted in speech sessions:
Pitch: How high or low your voice sounds
Intonation: The rise and fall of pitch in speech
Resonance: The quality of the sound your voice makes
Articulation: The way your teeth, tongue, and lips come together to create sounds
Volume: The loudness of your voice
Rate of speech: How rapidly or slowly you speak
Nonverbal vocalizations: Sounds you produce that aren’t speech, such as coughing, laughing, throat clearing, or sighing
In the area of nonverbal communication, your speech therapist can help you with:
Kinesics: Related to body movements and gestures
Proxemics: How close you stand with your communication partner during a conversation
Social pragmatics: Refers to elements of social interaction such as greetings, eye contact, staying on topic, etc.
These are all areas that can be explored in transgender voice therapy. But remember, the goals in voice training are driven by you, the client.
How do I make my voice sound more feminine?
Your therapist will help you explore what you perceive to be feminine voice and communication. We each have different views on what feminine voice and communication looks and sounds like! Gender affirming voice therapy is about finding a voice that reflects your inner truth.
In MTF voice training, it may be helpful to explore “stereotypical” feminine voice and speech patterns, including:
Increasing your average speaking pitch
Varying your intonation patterns (making your pitch go up and down and using a wider variety of pitches when you speak)
Using detailed and precise articulation
Speaking with forward-focused resonance
Modifying your vocal tract to amplify higher frequencies for a “brighter” sounding tone
Speaking with your mouth in an “ee” vowel shape for a sweeter, brighter tone
Keep in mind that these speech patterns are based on stereotypes and sociological research. They may be helpful in guiding your voice feminization goals. However, we recommend creating your goals based on what feels good for you, not on societal expectations!
How long does it take to feminize your voice?
Gender affirming voice therapy is highly individualized. The length of MTF voice therapy is driven by you and your satisfaction with your voice. Individuals may undergo voice feminization therapy for anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
It’s our hope that by the end of your voice feminization journey, you will feel more confident and connected to your voice. The goal is to be able to use your authentic voice wherever and with whomever you choose.