Voice Therapy for Transgender People


Columbus, Ohio. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Transgender people often struggle with discrimination and harassment, which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Now, new programs are helping people in transition communicate in a way that is comfortable, and gender-affirming.

SeAnna grew up in rural west Virginia … a small town where she buried her true feelings about her gender for years.

SeAnna says, “I’ve been a fish out of water my entire life.”

Five years ago, she lost a close friend, and was hospitalized for depression.

“That was when, that was the first time that I had admitted to anyone that I was trans. This is why I’ve never felt, you know, connected to the male experience. This is why like when someone calls me sir, I’ve always cringed inside:” SeAnna explains.

Two years ago, during COVID isolation, SeAnna started medically transitioning from male to female, starting with hormones. But she still wasn’t happy with how she sounded. That’s when she sought out gender-affirming voice coaching.

Anna Lichtenstein, Speech Therapist at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center says, “Most of the patients that we see here can achieve their goals or close to their goals with voice therapy alone, which is a significantly less invasive option.”

Lichtenstein works with patients on pitch, resonance, speech patterns and breathing. Men and women approach each differently.

Lichtenstein says, “We start at a sound level, playing around with weird sounds and coordinating them.”

Then they practice sentences and conversation.

“Looking at where I was and where I am now, it’s like, it’s crazy. It’s really like increased my quality of life.” Explains SeAnna

Lichtenstein says, “I want all my patients to be able to communicate with confidence out in the world.”

Giving trans people, their voice.

Lichtenstein says the majority of her patients are trans women … people assigned male at birth who identify as female. She says the hormones taken during medical transition, like estrogen and progesterone have no effect on the vocal tract. She also works with non-binary and agender people who want a more androgynous sound when they communicate. Lichtenstein usually suggests patients see her for 45 minutes every week, for a minimum of ten weeks, and patients are encouraged to do vocal exercises at home every day.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

REPORT #3046

BACKGROUND: The term transgender describes people whose gender identity, or their internal sense of being male, female, or something else, does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, there are about 1.4 million transgender people in the United States. Some transgender people don’t identify with either gender exclusively. Their gender identity may combine both female and male elements, or they may not feel like either gender. These people are often described as being “non-binary.” The term transgender does not describe a person’s romantic and sexual preferences. That’s because gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Transgender people may be straight, gay (or lesbian), or bisexual.

(Source: https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/what-is-transgender)

TRANSITIONING TO TRANSGENDER: Many people go through a process of coming to know, accept, and express their gender identity, which is called gender affirmation. There are several ways to affirm gender through medical and non-medical options. Some medical options can include hormone therapy or taking medicine such as testosterone or estrogen to help increase or decrease sex characteristics; puberty blockers, or medicines that block the hormones that cause body changes during puberty; and surgery. There are different surgeries that can change the look and function of the body that help match the gender identity. Some non-medical options are living as your gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice therapy, or even hair removal and name change; professional guidance through counseling to help a person, family, or group of people; and getting support through a doctor, school counselor, or online organizations.

(Source: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/Pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=acd1551)

A NEW TECHNIQUE WITH BIG RESULTS: Scientists from a team led by Evelyn Telfer, a reproductive biologist at the University of Edinburgh, say they have managed to take eggs from the ovaries of transgender men and get them ready for fertilization in a process completed entirely outside the body. This study suggests that viable eggs can be obtained from transgender men even after years of testosterone therapy, which can stop ovulation. “It’s very exciting, very important work … and is going to be an important advancement that will potentially help a lot of patients,” says Samir Babayev, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Telfer wants to try the procedure in sheep before she attempts it in people. If they’re successful, Babayev predicts that the technique will take off among clinics. This technique could also be useful in other circumstances like children facing cancer treatments that might damage their ovaries. They could have parts of them frozen first, offering a way to have their own biological children later in life.

(Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/04/26/1051086/transgender-men-children/)

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Serena Smith


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