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February 16, 2009

I never made a huge effort to change my voice. I have experimented with lowering my tone at home, speaking into a microphone; but when I actually talk with someone, I’d rather let the conversation flow naturally. I prefer to concentrate on what I say instead of how squeaky I sound, even if that entails being seen as female.

Maybe, if my voice were the only thing in the way of “passing”, I’d pay more attention to it. As it is, I’m usually seen as male anyway, unless the other person already knows me well. Or maybe I just don’t care so much; maybe I care more about establishing a connection with the person I’m talking to, a connection that goes beyond how I’m gendered.

As Clare Howell wrote in GenderQueer, “…I make little effort to present either a feminine or masculine appearance. I lived half a lifetime creating the caricature of a man and have no interest in spending the other half doing ‘woman’.”*

That doesn’t mean I like my voice; I remember being horrified when I first heard a recording of myself in the 6th grade. It’ll be awesome to hear it change when I’m on testosterone. Maybe I’m just lazy; but for now, other things seem more important than getting a lower voice.

* “Caricature” doesn’t seem the best term for modifying one’s presentation; I guess she means “trying too hard to pass by pretending to be someone you’re not.” I don’t think a transwoman would want to ridicule transpeople!

PS: Vancouver Coastal Health’s guide to changing speech for transpeople.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2009 12:02 pm

    I had a youth from a program I ask me once about a trans coworker…
    “so blank is a boi right?”
    me- “yes”
    “so then why does his voice sound like that”

    as much as we hate it voices are very indicative of gender…

  2. genderkid permalink*
    February 16, 2009 12:13 pm

    They are, but a high voice doesn’t immediately equal “woman”. I know cis guys who talk in a high register, and cis girls with low voices. My dad always thinks that Mika is a woman, and that Tracy Chapman is a man!

    I believe it all adds up: if someone has a high voice, breasts, a “feminine” face and “women’s” clothes, ze’ll be percieved as a woman. However, if someone with that same voice seems to be “like a man” in every other respect, ze’ll probably be percieved as male.

    What did you say to that youth?

  3. February 16, 2009 2:32 pm

    I agree thats true, but voice definitely has a large impact on the ability to pass as “truly” male or female.

    I told them that there were somethings you just can’t help…
    and we left it at that…
    its hard to know what that person would have wanted me to say on his behalf, so I tried to stay away from anything too specific… the youth was also about 9 years old…

  4. February 17, 2009 7:27 pm

    Well put! I relate entirely. I’ve been on Testosterone since December 11th and, while I’m excited that my voice is deepening to some extent, I can’t compel myself to exert effort into “sounding male” rather than just, well, sounding like me.

    Anyhoo, I stumbled across your blog a week or so ago and love it. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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