voice like an aged provoloneJanuary 31, 2010
I found it interesting to see Lucas talking about his decision not to go on T – for fear of what it would do to his voice. I’m going a bit squinty at the research that seemed to tell him he’d have a useless, squeaky voice for 2.5 years, but I suppose different experiences are different, and solid data on what a sudden increase in testosterone does to the adult body is still pretty minimal, so it’s entirely possible there’s some amount of truth in there.
Begin navel-gazing tangent: I’ve been on T for about eight months now. Within the first few weeks I noticed a shift in my vocal cords and a slight deepening of my range. A month or so in I discovered I no longer had the kind of upper register I was used to, and my voice would crack at unexpected moments when speaking. I still haven’t gotten my solid singing voice back (though that’s partly because I haven’t really been working on it). I did discover around Thanksgiving that I could comfortably sing the bass part in the church hymnal with only a few of the very bottom notes out of my range. The teenage-boy-voice-cracking really only lasted for a few months, though it still happens now and then when I’m really excited about something and not paying attention. My voice is still a bit of a mystery to me, a bit out of my control — but then, that’s something I’m kind of used to.
I’ve never particularly liked my speaking voice, and during my several years of genderqueerness I sometimes hated my speaking voice for betraying my femaleness. I can be the super chatty one in a group, but not until I’m either a little drunk or really intimate with everyone in said group. And we’re talking about something I care desperately about. For numerous reasons (not all of which are even gender-identity related, but borne out of a general shyness and paranoia about saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or using the wrong name or generally being wrong) my voice has never been something I fully trust. I’d rather resigned myself to that fact.
But then T happened. Suddenly I had this voice that wasn’t betraying my femaleness but rather confirming my maleness. Verifying, validating, insert-your-favorite-empowerment-word-ing. This was thrilling. I wanted to use my voice all the time, to speak, to be heard, to shout to the world that I AM HERE AND I WANT TO DO STUFF.
Yet for all those other numerous reasons and a lifetime of practice, I still don’t know how to really trust my voice. I am learning. It’s part of the reason I’m taking an acting class right now, actually. I’m working on this monologue* about making cheese and how awful most American-brand cheese is and how sublime and wonderful a good aged cheese can be and OMG THE AFTERTASTE OMNOMNOM. (Here, have a listen. Yes, this is me.)
The instructor tells me she doesn’t believe I care about Cheese because it’s not in my Voice. And she’s not wrong. I listen to myself sometimes and I sound… flat, bored, boring, and rather not like me.
But hey — it’s still new. It’s still learning to walk, if you’ll permit an anthropomorphic metaphor about my own vocal cords. While I’m over here tapping my foot, impatient for it to dance. Or um… fly? Ride a motorcycle? Something else that is superior to walking?
End navel-gazing tangent.
So, anyway, it tickles me to see a gorgeous trans man being recognized and being visible — even if the announcement, irritatingly enough, is in a blog for lesbian and bisexual women, at least they treat him with respect and proper pronouns and hey, they can talk about whoever the hell they want. It’s cool that he talks about how he isn’t on T but that doesn’t make him any less a man — even if his reasons include some possible misinformation about OMG T WILL RUIN YOUR VOICE FOREVER, but then it is totally not his job to Inform The Public About All Facets Of Transness. The rest of us, in fact, have voices too.
Even if they’re sometimes as wobbly as newborn colts. (Or was the anthropomorphic one better?)
DANCE, LARYNX, DANCE!!!
P.S. If anyone comments just to tell me I have a nice voice and should stop fretting, I will scowl at you in a most immature fashion.
*Credits for the monologue: Len, from Book of Days by Lanford Wilson
ETA: Well, would you look at that. Moments after hitting “publish” I find an article all about Testosterone And The Trans Male Singing Voice. *SUBSCRIBES*