Finding my voice

I keep thinking I’ve done all the emotional bits, apart from the obvious. Then something else creeps up and hits me over the head and… I suddenly go all tearful (and happy) for no reason whatsoever.

Yesterday’s voice therapy was one of those. It really was.

For starters, the whole exercise is about helping me to pass, even though, as I have made perfectly clear, I am not at all bothered, one way or another, about whether I pass or not.

Cue “am I bovvered” monologue.

But honestly? The idea that I can start a conversation on the phone with “Hi, I’m Jane Fae”, without instantly being challenged by someone going “James?” fills me with joy

Elsewhere, I think I’ve mentioned how the transition process feels. In many ways I am giving up what is traditionally regarded as “male privilege”. I can’t pretend I had none of it: but I did have considerably less than the average male. I never felt at home or comfortable in male company. It was as though they spoke another language…and I was always having to run to my dictionary to work out what they were really saying.

Made me very awkward…very much less easy, socially.

And, transitioning, I have given up that traditional role: taken on one that is far less; and yet, because I fit it so much better, it is all round easier for me to socialise, get on, work. Which is better? Being comfortable as secretary or PA? Or always out of your depth as a manager?

(That slightly caricatures it: but essentially, I was always happier picking up support roles that are traditionally – better? – done by women: and very often was not allowed to occupy that space because the assumption was that as a man, I wouldn’t want to “demean” myself).

My speech adapted to how I felt. Which is: I have always been quiet, always used words as a way to negotiate/manipulate rather than assert.

I put some of that down to having real physical difficulties with voice projection. What yesterday’s session suggested was exactly the opposite.

That, because I never felt comfortable speaking out, I had developed some appalling habits of speech which were actually quite damaging to my voice. Those, in turn, were giving me issues like a persistent cough: a secondary mode for speech; and various other problems.

In a very real sense, therefore, I left yesterday’s session going: “OMG! I never had a voice before!”

That hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. Not only had I passed most of my life not being me: I hadn’t even been able to express myself as me.

Happy? You bet. I rather think I poured out a load of totally embarrassing stuff to Christella, along with thanks and “I’ll be back”. I walked out of the session wishing it could have gone on twice as long.

Walked? Actually, I skipped ever so slightly. I didn’t – quite – punch the air in triumph. But that was how I felt.

The idea of doing ten minutes a day – ONLY ten minutes? – of practice is just silly. I want to be doing this all the time.

And then Kim – the director on the documentary asked me on camera how I felt and the above sort of tumbled out. A voice! Yesss!



2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Lucy Melford said,

    I took lessons from Christella for a year.

    We got on very well, and I was inspired to master the techniques. I put in far more than ten minute a day, though. It was 24/7 for me, all my waking hours, talking to myself, to my teddy bear, to the TV, to the neighbours, to my trans friends; and never, never taking time out to revert to the ‘old’ voice. The ‘new’ voice quickly got to the right kind of pitch. Then it was a question of purifying it, that is, eliminating the low-frequncy buzzes and throatiness. And then learning how to make the voice rise and fall as a woman would, and how to tone it, and stress it and emphasise it – and yet soften it, so that it wasn’t so strident or assertive. And studying how women spoke to each other, how they didn’t overtalk and dominate conversations as a man might. Then making sure that what I said matched this female voice. And what my face and body positions should be in different situations.

    Christella was very encouraging and made me feel a success.

    If I get to visit you at the Nuffield, you can hear the result for yourself! Play your cards right, and I may attempt to sing.


  2. 2

    eclectic chicken said,

    maybe thats why you went into writing if you didn’t have a physical voice you were comfortable with?

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