Jump to content

Voice Feminization / Therapy for a Transgender in Transition

Rate this topic


Robert Lunte
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Administrator

I have a very interesting case on hand and would like to get some feedback from anyone that may have some insights here. I have a new student that is approximately an 18 year old girl, trapped in a man's body. Now... I would ask that you refrain from any jokes. I am completely serious. Not wanting to pass up a challenge or a learning experience, this client is working with me to learn how to speak more feminine. Here is what I have suggested thus far, and yes, she is on estrogen, but the process is pretty slow. Her male voice is actually pretty deep to complicate the issue.

1). We have phonated in semi-occluded phonations as I would with any singing student in an effort to lift the larynx and get out of a "bottom-up", throaty phonation. Of course that helps...

2). We have identified the optimal pitch range for a woman to speak in vs a man... with the help of her mother. I believe we settled on pitches slight below middle C. My subsequent research has proven that this was a good call... seems to be a focus around 180-220Hz. And additional quote from some of my research on this is interesting to note:

Place your fingers on your throat lightly, feel where the Adam's Apple is. Swallow, feel how it goes far up, then down. Learning how to shift it upwards and backwards while talking is the key to successful voice feminization

3). I have encouraged him to read allowed in his session on this higher, optimal feminine speaking pitch range. Seems to help.

4). I have addressed the prosodic issues of feminine inflections, (speaking rate, inflection, pauses), which can be a bit unsettling for me to demonstrate, but thats what I have to do. Essentially, speaking like a woman.

Here is more from an article I read, I seem to have grasped most of these accept the rate of speech, which I will try this weekend:

Things that help make a voice feminine

Pitch - Feminine voices are higher; this may be the most important concern.

Pitch Range Men tend to be more monotone, varying the pitch helps feminize the voice.

Speech Rate - Men typically speak at a steady rate, while women tend to speak in shorter bursts followed by pauses.

Language patterns - The language that women use differs from that of men, although the degree of variation can be quite different from one language to the next (relative to English, it is extremely pronounced in Japanese, for instance).

Tag Questions - Example: "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?" A man, on the other hand, would be more likely to simply declare, "It is a beautiful day."

Supportive environment - As with any skill, speaking with a feminine voice may be easier without the stress of extreme consequences for failure (for example, being identified as a transsexual by someone to whom one is not out.) Additionally, opportunities to use the feminine voice in conversational situations (as opposed to speech-therapeutic ones) may be helpful in polishing the skill.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions around this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've known a few transgenders in my time. They are real and deserve respect. What bothers some religious conservatives is that we are all God's creatures and some of those fundamentalists have a hard time reconciling their own paradigm with the reality of creation.

Anyway, something I else I learned about a woman's speach and I actually learned this through dog training. It is a matter of how dogs hear. When a dam (mother dog) growls at a pup to stop something, she descend in pitch at the end. And human males also tend to end their sentences on downward inflection. Women would sometimes have a problem with the same command to a dog because women tend to end a sentence with a rise in inflection or a steady inflection. So, your student could also practice a slight deflection upwards. But, I mean, really subtle.

When I see an effeminate man on t.v., he is usually speaking high, a given, but also with a twang. Even Harvey Fierstein, with that gravel pit from hell voice, has some twang in his voice. But, anyway, I think female throats are usually a little smaller in diameter, which may support higher pitch resonation. So, your student might do something with some light twang. And it might similar sounding to some of my headtones, especially on a clean song.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But, anyway, I think female throats are usually a little smaller in diameter, which may support higher pitch resonation.

This is absouletly true, the average female voice is 6 semitones higher than the average male voice.(All this is after puberty ofc)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow Rob, this is truly a very interesting case.

No one seems to have mentioned volume. In my experience guys generally talk louder than girls, probably a mixture of men trying to 'establish dominance' and general vocal make up. I'm not an expert on scientifics of the voice and I don't want to get into a debate about male psychology either, but it's something I've noticed to be true. So volume may be something?

I think softness/lightness is linked with the volume also. So the two may go hand in hand and I'd say are both typical feminine voice qualities (although there are obviously exceptions).

The rising inflections many people have mentioned are a definite. When I studied drama and we had to play female parts or effeminate guys, that (plus the stuff I mentioned above) was the major thing they taught us. But obviously we weren't as good at the voices as your client needs to be.

I'm not sure if this was very helpful, just my observations and minor amounts of knowledge. Good luck Rob :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If he is a woman trapped in a man's body, then it makes sense to me that he would have the instinct of talking/acting/being a woman. It seems to me that if he has spent 18 years as a "boy," then his speech habits will be affected by that, and he may struggle with the flexibility which is necessary to speak as a woman, because that generally means much more inflection and general pitch variation to properly communicate.

Perhaps some of your good old vocal training will help, so that he can just trust his female instinct and know that the pitch/tone/feeling will come out right, and not crack or otherwise sound faked?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i have a shelf full of transsexual x-rated dvds on my shelves here at my video store...the people once men, are incredibly beautiful after transition. it's incredible.

i think anyone can sound feminine if they put their mind to it, and micro intend it...let it release.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This post will contain no advice, but it's certainly on topic. Have you guys seen this:

This guy sings a song from Aladin, a duet between a man and women, he totally nails the both male and female parts. Notice in the beginning when he introduces himself that he has got a pretty average male speaking voice, not particularly effeminate. Also below is a clip of him doing a Whitney Houston song:

Amazing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This post will contain no advice, but it's certainly on topic. Have you guys seen this:

This guy sings a song from Aladin, a duet between a man and women, he totally nails the both male and female parts. Notice in the beginning when he introduces himself that he has got a pretty average male speaking voice, not particularly effeminate. Also below is a clip of him doing a Whitney Houston song:

Amazing!

there you go. some gay men have that effeminate quality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrator

You probably know this but here it is just in case :

http://www.genderlife.com/products-page/voicetutor

Wow, thanks Thanos, that is really helpful... Ill pass it on. Ya, a very interesting topic here... ? As a matter of fact, I am coincidentally sitting in my studio waiting for her to arrive for her lesson.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a very interesting case on hand and would like to get some feedback from anyone that may have some insights here. I have a new student that is approximately an 18 year old girl, trapped in a man's body. Now... I would ask that you refrain from any jokes. I am completely serious. Not wanting to pass up a challenge or a learning experience, this client is working with me to learn how to speak more feminine. Here is what I have suggested thus far, and yes, she is on estrogen, but the process is pretty slow. Her male voice is actually pretty deep to complicate the issue.

1). We have phonated in semi-occluded phonations as I would with any singing student in an effort to lift the larynx and get out of a "bottom-up", throaty phonation. Of course that helps...

2). We have identified the optimal pitch range for a woman to speak in vs a man... with the help of her mother. I believe we settled on pitches slight below middle C. My subsequent research has proven that this was a good call... seems to be a focus around 180-220Hz. And additional quote from some of my research on this is interesting to note:

Place your fingers on your throat lightly, feel where the Adam's Apple is. Swallow, feel how it goes far up, then down. Learning how to shift it upwards and backwards while talking is the key to successful voice feminization

3). I have encouraged him to read allowed in his session on this higher, optimal feminine speaking pitch range. Seems to help.

4). I have addressed the prosodic issues of feminine inflections, (speaking rate, inflection, pauses), which can be a bit unsettling for me to demonstrate, but thats what I have to do. Essentially, speaking like a woman.

Here is more from an article I read, I seem to have grasped most of these accept the rate of speech, which I will try this weekend:

Things that help make a voice feminine

Pitch - Feminine voices are higher; this may be the most important concern.

Pitch Range Men tend to be more monotone, varying the pitch helps feminize the voice.

Speech Rate - Men typically speak at a steady rate, while women tend to speak in shorter bursts followed by pauses.

Language patterns - The language that women use differs from that of men, although the degree of variation can be quite different from one language to the next (relative to English, it is extremely pronounced in Japanese, for instance).

Tag Questions - Example: "It's a beautiful day, isn't it?" A man, on the other hand, would be more likely to simply declare, "It is a beautiful day."

Supportive environment - As with any skill, speaking with a feminine voice may be easier without the stress of extreme consequences for failure (for example, being identified as a transsexual by someone to whom one is not out.) Additionally, opportunities to use the feminine voice in conversational situations (as opposed to speech-therapeutic ones) may be helpful in polishing the skill.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions around this?

rob, when one is hanging out in head voice and falsetto, i really think one can sound feminine if one wanted to.

if he wanted to be a woman, he has to want to sing like one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrator

rob, when one is hanging out in head voice and falsetto, i really think one can sound feminine if one wanted to.

if he wanted to be a woman, he has to want to sing like one.

Bob, although Falsetto does sound "feminine", I dont think thats the phonation we are looking for... his speaking voice needs to be adducted, now windy. The answer is a combination of training to speak around 220hz, learning feminine inflections and rate of speech mostly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have any inputs on this topic, but I just wanted to applaud Robert for taking on such a sensitive case and helping this person become who she wants to be. Imagine what a great help you are doing to this person's psyche in a world prone to ridicule her. Truly inspiring, Robert! Kudos to you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Don't know if this is of any help Robert, but you could get her to use an adducted falsetto register - that's why the guy in the video appears to be doing and it's what a lot of counter tenors use. Tom and Sarah Harris were looking into this a while back I think - but it appears that the main defining characteristic (at least physiologically) of falsetto is that the TA isn't working any more, but vocal tract adjustment makes adduction possible. Twang is helpful here too, so perhaps this is why people are perceiving female speech as being twangier in general.

I think you can hear an interview with Tom and Sarah on the Vocal Process website somewhere - might be worth checking out.

Good luck with it !

Allan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob, although Falsetto does sound "feminine", I dont think thats the phonation we are looking for... his speaking voice needs to be adducted, now windy. The answer is a combination of training to speak around 220hz, learning feminine inflections and rate of speech mostly.

Robert: A few years ago I did some reading on this. All the things you mention are very similar or the same as what I found.

There was one area I found which I've not seen mentioned here, though I did not read the contents at the links people posted. That area was of vocal tract length.

The acoustics of the female voice are different than that of men, but in some cases can be treated the same. If a male is a tenor, his vocal tract is fairly close in length to that of a contralto, and will have only slighter lower resonances than her based on pharyngeal diameter.

Where I think you will find a big difference is in the baritone or bass male voices. The vocal tracts of these persons are quite long, even up to 19 or more cm. The resonance characteristics of these voices, because the formant locations, will be those of the male even if the fundamental pitch and inflections are feminized. To bring the acoustics closer to the range needed, the person needs to shorten the vocal tract, either by learning a higher-larynx speaking technique, or by a medical procedure.

I found during my reading that there is a surgical procedure that is used by Laryngologists, in which the doctor inserts some 'straps' (for lack of a better term) that limit how far the larynx can descend below the hyoid, so that it does not ever again go as low as it formerly did. It only goes as far as it would in a woman. This technique raises all the formants into the feminine range.

When this is combined with the other things you mentioned, the voice comes well into the range of vocal characteristics that occur often among the female public.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...