Trans Women Find Their Voice

Israeli transgender organization Maavarim now offers a free new class for transgender women on the scale of MTF that teaches techniques to find, produce and practice a more feminine voice, in a safe space.

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The physical and mental process that transgender women go through is not a simple one. But even after the process is complete, many transgender women ask for help in feminization of their voice. At the workshop “You Own Voice” of Maavarim, held at the Tel Aviv LGBT Center and taught by speech therapists who specialize in the field, workshop participants learn to find and produce a more feminine voice, in a safe space.

There’s no such thing as the ‘right’ female voice, just the same as there’s no one right way or wrong way to be a woman,” says the speech therapist Mickey Perry. “However, trans women want to find a more feminine voice, which will help them pass as women, or find a voice they feel more comfortable with, find “their own voice.”

“On the Internet there are many training videos for feminization of the voice, but they are mostly in English, and it’s hard to apply them to Hebrew,” explains Perry. “In addition, instructions by speech therapists give them the right tools that are more precise individually, with a gradual direction.”

The Moderator of the workshop, Hagit Bar-Zeev, says that feminization of the voice is a process and takes practice in different techniques over a period of several weeks to months. “There are those who find it more convenient for such a process in a group and under the guidance of professionals,” she says. “A workshop for feminization of the voice is one way to go through the process. A group workshop can address other needs, such as support and inclusion that accompany the changing process. ”

“Each session begins with a vocal warm-up and is followed by practice techniques of feminization of the voice,” explains Bar-Zeev. “In the advanced stages there’s also room to practice conversation using the techniques learned, and to ask the group for feedback. It’s a combination between learning skills and applying these skills onto a situation of a free conversation. There’s an opportunity to play with the voice, to try, make mistakes and succeed. Practicing voice can also cause embarrassment, so we decided on a format of a closed group, meaning that it’s not possible to join a class in the middle. We hope this format will feel comfortable and be a safe way to exercise the voice, even if it can be embarrassing sometimes.”

Whom you recommend to come to the workshop?

“Every trans woman on the MTF scale, who would like to get the tools for feminization of the voice, whether she wants to use the female voice in daily life or not. Feminization of the voice does not damage the masculine voice, so a person who’s in the closet in some parts of life doesn’t have to worry about the process being irreversible.”

“Voice is indeed physical, but voice is also what we have to say, the uniqueness of our statements, the uniqueness of our perspective,” adds Perry. “We are trying to create a space where there is room for all voices, all opinions and feelings. Changing voice is also an internal and emotional process. The voice is the meeting point of our statements with the world. Searching for and finding a new voice can be an emotional process for some participants that sometimes can be complicated. But it’s all part of the process, and there’s no “magic solution”. People sometimes get frustrated throughout the process, and at the same time a sense of success and happiness when someone works for the first time on a phone call, and finds a voice that she felt for the first time is really hers.”