So I couldn’t sleep again tonight, which led me to Youtubing transition stuff.
My transition has been stalled–beyond buying clothes, finding a doc in StL to run labs and renew my meds in April, and that one laser appointment I had when I visited Corvallis in May–since I lost health insurance over a year ago. It has since become mountingly frustrating to do, well, almost anything that involves interacting with people who aren’t trans, friends, on the other side of a computer, or allies (read: 99% of the public, from pizza guys [almost always guys] to baristas to bus drivers to librarians to clerks to servers to people sitting next to me and not doing anything in coffee shops to nice folks striking up conversation in passing at the grocery store or at a wedding or really everywhere).
Thing is, I’m a social creature, or at least I used to be, and I don’t want to let that go (I’ve tried and I can’t get it off me). I’m still trying to figuring out what I’m doing with makeup (almost nothing), which can get expensive and bring its own set of frustrations (why won’t my eyelids stop trembling and just ACCEPT the eyeliner?!). So I’m trying some new stuff with my voice, because it’s free.
I don’t have the deepest voice, but my natural voice is firmly in the male register. It used to be deeper. I used to WANT it to be deeper, so I could hide better in the maleness I encouraged people to read onto me. Smoking made it way deep when I was an undergrad (eight years smoke-free this month yaaaaay!). It’s better now, but I still feel it outs me perhaps more than any other gender cue (which produces more anxiety than it should, but that’s a separate project). I have felt there was little I could do about my voice. I mean, even on days I shave my face and my pits and my legs, I can’t shave my voice. I can’t tweeze my voice into a better shape, or take pills to alter the shape and feel and proportion and chemistry of my voice.
Youtube sez it takes months for a new voice to feel natural, but I found some vids with some tips, and in just a night now I can speak in a less masculine register (I had already been paying attention to inflection and pitch variations, which are FUN) and sound way closer to what feels good
….for a few minutes. Folks, talking is HARD. My throat muscles get sore. Not my throat. My throat is amazing (well I think it is), but it’s the muscles that shape my voice that are getting sore. Fast. So while I might have found a place close to the WHERE of my voice (above my Adam’s apple, but closer to it than to my jaw, for now), the HOW will take some time.
I’m writing this for myself, to have a record of how my transition went, and so it can maybe be a resource for allies and other trans folks in a similar position(s) as myself. But I’m also writing this particular post for my friends and fam and other people in my life I see often.
I may sound different for a bit.
In the past, I probably would want feedback on something like this. I asked some of my MFA cohort for feedback on my outfits and my use of makeup when I started transitioning two summers ago. While that was tremendously useful then, and I totally appreciate their help, transition-related feedback has become less useful.
This is partly me wanting to resist something I’ve noticed people do (people here means “folks who aren’t in my MFA cohort,” since I don’t see y’all except, well, almost never, because the reality of geography D:). People comment on my appearance way more often than they did before I was transitioning, and think they’re helping.
I know that’s something American culture does to women–teaches us our appearance is the most important part of us. Fuck that and I hate it. It’s objectifying, degrading, insulting, damaging, and expensive. However, my appearance IS an important part of my life right now, for safety reasons. It can also be fun. I would like it to be more fun.
So in a way, that sort of attention is helping, and in a way, it isn’t. Though appearance comments might be intended as confidence-boosters, the attention they draw to how I look recently makes me feel more uncomfortable than before we started talking about my appearance, which is something I frequently feel I have less control over than I probably do, and is something that matters more than it ever did (though it shouldn’t).
If I want to talk about my voice, or how my clothes fit, or my hair, I will. And I have! And what I’ve learned so far has been useful and awesome.
But not now. This is gonna take a while, and probably suck for a bit. I don’t need to know you know my voice sucks when I already know it.
HOWEVER: people I spend a lot of time with will know how I talk, will probably hear ticks I’m not aware of. My last therapist once told me my voice drops especially lower when I’m thinking aloud or contemplating something. So I realize some people may be in a better position to tell me how I sound than me.
I am using a voice recorder. I’m reading my poems aloud in femme-voice and playing them back, so the exercise becomes useful for my writing too, and so I’ll want to do it more. I also really like my reading voice (I have no shame in saying I love the sound of my own voice…I’m a writer, a poet of all things, and this is a blog. Writer clichés, fulfilled!). My current reading voice took years to develop, and I can’t replicate the type of fluidity and…precision of tone with my femme voice that I can produce with my male voice, so I’m entertaining keeping male-voice around for reading events until femme-voice is ready for something as demanding as that.
Voice recorder is helping me learn how high/low in my throat the pitches live, and being able to locate them physically on my body has helped a lot already, on day one of the voice project. Knowing where they live can also be a good way to gauge my progress: as I push into higher registers, I’ll be able to feel them.
But would I ever have noticed that my voice gets low when I’m thinking aloud or contemplating something, by using voice recorder? Never.
So maybe some feedback here could be useful. Maybe it’s best to just say I’ll ask for feedback if I want it, so please withhold any critiques unless the subject is there already. Yeah.
(But if you want to lavish me with compliments, tbh, it’s been a shit month and my self-esteem could use a boost)
Voice Feminizing Links!