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Specialty Profile: Transgender Voice Therapy

18 June 2013

Although I´ve been aware of voice therapy for teachers, musicians and actors or accent reduction therapy for foreigners, I hadn´t given much thought to transgendered people. It´s not due to a fear or ignorance of that population, I´ve just heard more about therapy that was available for foreigners, teachers, etc. After receiving a text bringing up therapy for transgendered people, the gears in my mind started cranking... there´s plenty of people who go through these operations, so why wouldn´t there be therapy for their voices? After all, hearing someone´s voice can be a pretty decent indicator of their gender.

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Just a simple search of ¨Transgender voice speech pathology¨(creative, I know) brought up quite a bit of information! There were even some scholarly articles and books listed, albeit most were in Transgender scholarly journals and not written by speech researchers. None the less, the topics seemed interesting! Some of the non-scholarly webpages that were brought up were articles on voice therapy for those that went through the transition. A few speech pathologists had websites stating one of their specialities was transgender voice femininization-masculinization. There were even several transgender citizens (not certified speech-voice therapists) offering vocal therapy services, or just to teach their techniques.  The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) also had information on transgender voice therapy! How was I not in the know about this?

From what I read, there´s quite a bit that goes into therapy for these clients. For men that are now female, there is a bigger obstacle of obtaining a feminine voice, as estrogen doesn´t make the voice higher. Female voices also have a higher pitch and rely on intonation rather than volume to stress words in an utterance. These two facts came from the second article below, which has more discrepancies between male and female speech and body langauge. There´s plenty more information in these articles/websites.

A Speech Pathologist who does this work in NY:http://www.transgendervoice.net/about.html

Info-Q&A- Further Reading: (Note, the lady interviewed is not a speech therapist)http://blogs.plos.org/wonderland/2011/08/17/learning-to-speak-like-a-woman/

A Transgendered male-to-female´s website: http://www.lauras-playground.com/transgender_voice_therapist_list.htm

ASHA: http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/TGTS.htm

Article on Gov´t giving money to GWU for transgender voice research:http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/gov-t-spending-152500-study-voice-therapy-transgenders

Brochure: http://people.umass.edu/mva/pdf/ComDis%20612%20Student%20Presentations_09/Transgender%20Voice%20Therapy%20Brochure.pdf

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