~ How to develop a female voice ~


You can be very passable in your appearance, but if you speak in a masculine voice you've just outed yourself . . .

It amazes me how many transsexual women speak in a masculine-sounding voice.

They'll spend thousands on hormones, electrolysis, surgery, etc. but won't make the effort to retrain their voices. If you don't mind getting sir'd on the phone, or even in public, go ahead and talk like a man. But if you want to pass as a woman your voice is important.

Whether we like it or not, we're all ambassadors for the trans community. People will often base their opinions of us on first impressions. If you speak in a male voice, not only will there be incongruity between your voice and appearance, but it will tend to make people relate to us more as drag queens and crossdressers—an image we need to get away from.

Any male voice can be retrained. Don't be discouraged if you're starting with a baritone! For proof that your voice can be changed, try talking in falsetto. Obviously, it sounds silly and I don't recommend talking in falsetto, but it shows even the deepest voice can be raised.

Just like your walk, you're unlearning years of doing something in a masculine way. You're retraining your throat muscles. It was two-and-half months before I started getting ma'am on the phone and it may take a year, or more, before your voice sounds good in all situations, like yelling.

Will hormones make your voice higher? Unless you started HRT at the onset of, or early, puberty before your voice changed, hormones will have no effect on pitch, though estrogen will tend to soften the voice.

What about vocal surgery? That's an option and can take the worry out of whether you'll get clocked when you speak. I know three trans women who've had vocal surgery. Two sounded good and one didn't, she sounded raspy. As with most surgery, the outcome of voice surgery isn't certain. Explore your options and educate yourself about vocal surgery before deciding.


There are three steps to developing a female voice:

1. Learn the techniques 2. Practice 3. More practice! Training your voice is similar to learning piano: first you start with scales, then progress to songs until you're proficient.

These lessons are a combination of my own techniques, a session with a professional voice coach and singing lessons. I have eight years of radio broadcast experience, sang in a rock band and in an all-women choir (both stealth). If you have singing, radio broadcasting, or character voice experience, these techniques should be easy for you.

I recommend finding a voice coach in your area. It there are no voice coaches in your area, then find someone who teaches singing and tell him or her you just want to work on the upper register.

Recording and playing back your voice is important!

There are many nuances that make up the female voice and you can only hear them if you playback your voice. When a person hears his, or her, voice played back for the first time they're usually surprised at how different it sounds, because it's resonating in your head and sounds different from what others hear.

Also recommended is recording your phone calls, either with your computer or a cassette recorder. They will be invaluable to your learning process! The phone is an important test since the person you're speaking to has no visual clues about your gender. There are inexpensive devices you can buy at Radio Shack, and other electronics stores, that plug into your phone and a recorder and are activated when the phone receiver is lifted.

Check your local laws. In some states it's illegal to record a phone conversation without the other person's knowledge.

Warm-ups

Actors are taught warm-ups to get them ready to read scripts and they are applicable to learning a female voice, such as saying the vowels (a-e-i-o-u) and over-emphasizing them by making exaggerated mouth movements. This will help relax your mouth and jaw muscles and achieve the clear enunciation and modulation of the female voice.

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