Trans Voice: discover the possibilities of your authentic voice
Working with voice and the transgender community
Our voice is a core element of our identity: it needs to reflect who we are.
I've been the voice teacher at Leeds Gender Identity Clinic for 12 years, and was at the Nottingham Centre for Transgender Health for 8 years.
I also have a private practice in Leeds, and have worked with hundreds of trans clients over the past decade.
Not being heard
Most of us take our voice for granted. We assume that its 'natural' sound doesn't need to be altered or trained: it is simply a tool which enables us to communicate what we think and who we are to the outside world.
But what happens when that is no longer the case?
Many in the trans community tell me they feel 'betrayed' by their voice; it doesn't correspond to or reflect who they are.
This sense of disparity between who you know yourself to be, and how you are heard, can lead to enormous frustration. and hurt. You might feel that you can't communicate honestly with the world, and may often experience unwanted and unkind attention because of your voice. Voice dysphoria can be so strong that some trans women elect not to speak at all outside their immediate family or close friendship group.
This in turn can lead to isolation, or unwanted attention, and both can be devastating to well-being.
Changes in the voice
The testosterone at puberty provokes changes in the larynx which have a deepening effect on the voice. Thereafter it is more difficult for a trans woman to access those parts of the voice more readily identified as female. But what I've learnt from the hundreds of trans women I've worked with is that this IS indeed possible.
Trans women and voice
I was invited in 2007 by Leeds Gender Identity Service to work with trans women and their voices – to support the process of 'feminisation' of the voice during their transition.
These women were eager to explore the potential in their voices which would allow them to speak with authenticity in their true identity.
We all have far more to our voices than we imagine, and our voices are not restricted to a range which may simply be described as soprano, tenor etc. This very western categorisation is unrealistically limiting – many cultures and languages use a far greater range of pitch and tone than we regard as 'naturally' male or female.
I structured a programme of workshops to help trans women become more familiar with a greater range in their voice, and to develop the vocal skills and practices more usually associated with a 'female' voice.
The sessions I have had with Maggi have been immensely valuable – she swiftly enabled me to find a voice that I am much more comfortable with: through practical demonstrations, technical exercises and acute listening to each other, all done with huge generosity of spirit, disciplined, stepped challenge, and tremendous focus.
In short, Maggi’s work is outstanding: highly skilled, effective and beautifully tuned and tailored to the needs of her clients.
(Senior Lecturer, Drama Education, Bishop Grosseteste University)
Quotes from trans women who have attended nhs workshops
I truly detested my voice. I was very wary about meeting new people. As the eight weeks have gone on my confidence has been building and I am using my 'new' voice more and more.
The best thing about these classes was finding a range in my voice I never knew I had.
I feel much more confident to converse normally with a voice which sounds acceptable for a woman.
A life-changing class, I learnt a lot about my voice and now have the confidence to use my feminine voice and to fully transition.
Trans men and voice
And trans men were telling me that their experiences didn't bear out the opinion that T is a problem-free solution to the transitioning male voice. Some trans men experience poor pitch control, loss of volume, diminished range of the voice; these impairments can remain, even after the voice has 'settled'.
I work with trans men – both pre-T and post-T – to help them prepare for and deal with the effect on their larynx of the heavy doses of testosterone they are prescribed (the doses are 'heavy' relative to the gradual production of testosterone in the adolescent male).
To read more from trans women and trans men about their experience of working with Maggi, click here.
For information on trans-gender voice classes, workshops and one-to-one teaching: