Voice Neutralization!Mar 17, 2022
As you can see in the video above, I have a lot of feelings about voice neutralization. Every day, nonbinary folks of all stripes are sliding into my DMs and saying, "Renée, voice feminization and voice masculinization are all fine and good, but what if I want a voice that is neither masculine nor feminine? What if I want through the world as an indiscernible gender cloud?"
To them I say, I really really feel this struggle. And I've been thinking about this for a long time! There's no one perfect answer but I think I've found a good analogy for us to start with.
Let's talk about clothes. The things we wear.
I think we're all aware that clothes don't inherently have a gender. Anyone of any gender can wear any article of clothing, and it has no impact on their gender identity. Right?
However, we have clothes that we associate with stereotypically feminine, stereotypically masculine, or read as feminine and masculine within society. So when someone is non-binary and they want to express their neutralness or their non-binary gender through clothes, they have a lot of ways they can do this.
They could wear clothes that are the "opposite" of what is expected of them within society. If someone is expected to be feminine, then wearing masculine clothes might help them to feel more neutral or more non-binary. Or conversely, if someone is expected to present masculine, then wearing feminine clothes might be their way of expressing neutrality.
They could also combine elements of masculine and feminine in extreme (sometimes called genderfuck). For example, a suit jacket with a tutu would be an example of extremes of masculine and feminine combined.
Or you could sort of sand down the edges of clothes so that things are not particularly masculine or feminine. (Think "fashion sack, which is my usual go-to 😂)
Then a fifth way of expressing neutrality through clothes is dressing in a way that is wholly alien, such as wearing things that are completely unexpected within our society and that's another way of being neutral.
So when we're talking about clothes, we can understand inherently that there are many, many ways to express neutrality.
Now, think about the voice.
There is no one characteristic of the voice that is inherently gendered, right? Anyone of any gender can have any voice, and it has no bearing on their gender identity. However, there are certain characteristics of the voice that are perceived as masculine and feminine within our society. If you want to express your voice in a neutral way, you have so many options available to you, just like you have options available to you with your clothes.
If you're expected to be feminine, you could try masculinizing your voice. If you're expected to be masculine, you could try feminizing your voice.
You could combine extremes of gendered characteristics such as a low voice that is really bright or a high voice that is really dark.
You could try creating a voice that is difficult to discern as either masculine or feminine, or you could create a voice that is wholly alien, completely outside of the norm using extended vocal techniques.
The bottom line is, when we're talking about how to neutralize the voice, there are so many ways and it's a gigantic playground. Have fun and find out what gives you gender euphoria!