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voice like an aged provolone

January 31, 2010

Lucas Silveira

Lucas Silveira
(image from afterellen.com)

Canadian singer Lucas Silveira is the first (openly) trans man to win the reader-poll “Throw Your Underwear Award – Male” from music magazine Chart Attack.

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!!!

Whee, Sunday.

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


Transguys
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*

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12 comments

  1. the day before yesterday i was in a little wooden boat, and someone started playing australian folk tunes on a ukulele, and i sang – both impromptu and in public for the first time in, well, probably years. it was great – my voice didn’t misbehave once! 😀


    • Hee. Awesome!


  2. I can understand him wanting to be extra cautious since he’s a professional singer, though.


    • Yeah, actually it totally makes sense to avoid something whose outcomes are so unknown and individual.


  3. I consider myself to have an unfortunately female voice but the other day I got sir’d on the phone. It was cool. I’m hoping T will do similar things for me too. 🙂

    I find myself, even in friend situations, not wanting to use my voice. I’m going to listen to the clip when I get home. I’m slightly obsessed with how T progresses one’s voice (since I’m excitedly waiting for the opportunity to be right for me to get those fun changes) so (and not to sound like a creeper) I’m excited to give a listen. 😀


    • Getting randomly sir’d is pretty exciting, congrats. 🙂 I’m glad to provide evidence on a T-altered voice, though it’s times like this I regret not doing more documentation of the entire process. I’ve got a few recordings from last summer that I had previously uploaded to imeem (before imeem became myspace and no longer had audio hosting) so maybe I’ll put those up here at some point.


      • So, I finally gave it a listen. Your voice is probably on the border for the max amount of male-ness I’m hoping for. 🙂

        And, thanks! Ya, it’s weird because I’m not a guy but it feels good at the same time to be read as one. Haha, fun-times. And if you want to hook me up with that, I have an email on my blog. 🙂 Thanks.


  4. Dude, you sound so male now!


  5. That’s really cool that you’re recording your voice changes! Glad you liked the T and Singing piece on TransGuys.com. Thanks for linking to it! [subscribes back]


    • Yeah, that was quite a fortuitous finding. 🙂


  6. Scowl if it suits you, Gabe… but it *is* a nice voice.


    • *scowls petulantly*

      So it may either amuse or irritate you that it took me a good ten minutes to figure out that “Godmom” was not an internet handle but a declaration of relationship to me. I confess early-morning pre-caffeinated idiot-brain. Hi you!



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