Imagine for a moment that your relationship with your voice is distressing. Imagine that everytime you make a sound, whether speaking or singing, that you feel a sense of disgust, disconnect and/or overwhelming sadness because it doesn’t feel aligned with a major facet of your identity, specifically your gender. Imagine experiencing this on a daily basis.
Now, imagine that there is a way to change this? There is! And this is why gender affirming voicework is so valuable for gender expansive individuals. As defined by non-binary music therapist and expert in the field, Maevon Gumble, “Gender affirming voicework is a new holistic method aimed at assisting individuals with accessing and embodying affirming gender expressions, particularly vocal expressions,” often with the help of a speech language pathologist and/or a music therapist, the primary goal being modifying the voice to reflect one’s gender identity through masculinizing, feminizing and/or androgenizing techniques.
From a music therapy perspective, the application of gender affirming voicework can look like the following:
Transitioning across your vocal registers (between low and high)
Working to strengthen a particular register
Playing with your resonance and vowel placement
Finding keys of songs that work best for your voice
Navigating your voice before, during and post testosterone-based HRT
Connecting your speaking voice with your singing voice
Engaging in adequate support
Developing overall sustainable singing practices
For more information on gender affirming voicework in music therapy, please see the following article: https://voices.no/index.php/voices/article/view/2661/2806
Additionally, if gender affirming voicework sounds like something you could benefit from, please consider our Gender Affirming Chorus support group, to be facilitated by myself, launching this September.
Kim Johnson, LMHC, MT-BC, is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and board certified music therapist (MT-BC) who graduated with her master’s from Lesley University in 2017. She has experience with adults and adolescents in group private practice and community mental health settings. The levels of care she has worked in are outpatient, with both individual and group therapy and in partial hospital programs for mental health and substance use disorders. Additionally, she has had intensive training in dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive processing therapy for PTSD.
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