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Finding Your Voice: How Long is the Gender-Affirming Speech Journey?

motivation nonbinary voice voice feminization voice masculinization Oct 02, 2023
Will I have to "think" about my voice forever?

Hey there, I'm Renée, a gender-affirming voice teacher, and today I want to address a question that many of my students ask: "If I learn to change my voice, will I have to consciously be doing it all the time, or will it just become normal?" It's a valid concern, and I'm here to shed some light on the matter.

At the beginning of your journey to modify your speaking voice to better align with your gender presentation, it's entirely normal to feel like you're carrying a significant cognitive load. In simple terms, this means that your brain is working overtime to produce your desired voice, leaving very little room for anything else – listening, reacting, thinking, or processing. It might feel like you'll never have a natural conversation without constantly "thinking" about your voice.

Let me assure you, though, that this is a common experience, especially in the initial stages of voice modification. Think of it as learning a new skill from scratch. Just like when you first learned to drive a car, ride a bike, or even perform something as mundane as doing laundry, every step required conscious thought and effort. You had to pay close attention, focus on the details, and it seemed like an uphill battle.

In the world of voice modification, it's no different. In the beginning, you'll need to put in that conscious effort to shape your voice into the one that truly reflects who you are. It might feel challenging, and you might wonder if you'll ever reach a point where it becomes second nature.

However, here's the good news: your body and brain are incredibly adaptable. As you continue to practice and exercise those vocal muscles to create your new voice, your brain starts forming new pathways. These pathways make the process of producing your desired voice faster, smoother, and more automatic over time.

Think of it like this: when you started driving, you had to consciously remember to check your mirrors, shift gears, and follow traffic rules. But after enough practice, these actions became ingrained in your muscle memory. You could drive while chatting with a friend, listening to your favourite music, and even thinking about something entirely unrelated to driving. The same principle applies to voice modification.

So, the answer to that common question is a resounding yes – with dedication and practice, you can indeed speak with your dream voice without constantly thinking about it. It's all about persistence and patience. Trust the process and be kind to yourself along the way.

Remember, there's no set timeline for this transformation. Everyone progresses at their own pace, and that's perfectly okay. The key is to keep practicing regularly and gradually increase the complexity of your exercises. I even compiled an entire book of cognitive load games to help you do this! Over time, you'll find that your new voice starts to feel more natural, and you won't have to consciously think about it during everyday conversations.

Additionally, seeking guidance and support from a gender-affirming voice teacher, like myself, can be invaluable. A professional can provide you with tailored exercises, feedback, and encouragement throughout your journey. They can also help you navigate any challenges you encounter along the way, making the process smoother and more manageable.

In short, modifying your voice to align with your gender identity is a journey that requires effort and dedication, especially in the beginning. The initial cognitive load may make it feel like you'll be forever preoccupied with your voice, but trust in your brain's ability to adapt and create new pathways. Just like learning any new skill, practice will gradually make it second nature.

So, if you're embarking on this journey, keep practicing, be patient with yourself, and remember that change takes time. Your dream voice is within reach, and soon enough, you'll find yourself speaking with confidence and authenticity, without even thinking about it.

Hi, I'm Renée! (they/them)

I'm a queer, nonbinary, and disabled singer, songwriter and gender-affirming voice teacher. 

I've been a voice teacher for over twelve years, I have four full-length albums out, and I have degrees in physics, jazz, and songwriting.

I love creating, I love figuring things out, but most of all, I love helping people.

Learn more about me

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This workbook will teach you about the muscles and cartilage that control your voice, which will help you control them better.

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This workbook will teach you easy games that will help you maintain your target voice for longer.

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