As a gay man, finding your gender-affirming voice is a colorful and exciting journey of growth and self-discovery. From the fear of not fitting, questioning your worth, and tumultuous emotions to strained mental health, gender dysphoria can affect your quality of life. For a queer person, finding your gender-affirming voice is the first step towards addressing the anxiety and insecurity of having a non-traditional sexual orientation.
Whether you are just starting to explore your gender identity or have been out for a while, your voice is a powerful tool to express yourself authentically and confidently. In this article, we will discuss what gender affirmation is, why it’s important, and the best ways to find your gender-affirming voice as a gay man.
What is a gender-affirming voice?
Are you aware that not every person’s assigned gender at birth complements their gender identity? Being born with male biological organs doesn’t necessarily make you a man any more than being born with a vagina makes you a woman. Your gender identity is separate from your assigned sex at birth, which is based on physical characteristics such as chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs. Because your assigned gender at birth doesn’t always complement your authentic identity, finding a gender-affirming voice is important because it can help you become more at peace with your inner self.
A gender-affirming voice is a voice that aligns with your sense of identity. Finding your gender-affirming voice involves a wide range of activities designed to make you feel more at ease with your gender identity, including changes in pitch, articulation, intonation, learning social rules of communication, and adapting to speech inflections that align with your gender identity. You can use different strategies, such as voice therapy, to ensure your voice is more congruent with your gender identity.
Best ways to find your gender-affirming voice as a gay man
You can never underestimate the value of having a gender-affirming voice for sexual orientation minorities, especially on non-binary, trans, and gender-fluid identities. Access to gender-affirming care, which enables trans and non-binary identities, is important because it helps to wade off the devastating effects of gender dysphoria, including stress, depression, panic attacks, and suicidal ideation. While every individual’s gender identity discovery journey is unique, several key points can help you seamlessly live your authentic self.
Some of the best ways to find your gender-affirming voice as a gay man include the following:
· Explore your identity
Take some time to explore your assumed identity and what it means to you. Think about how you want to express yourself and what it means to experience life authentically. Explore different ways of speaking, experiment with different mannerisms, and pay attention to what feels most comfortable and natural.
Changing your presumed gender identity to your assumed gender can be a scary and taxing experience. From dealing with social stigma, legal obstacles, mental health issues, and possible medical complications, transitioning can have lasting consequences, so it’s not something you can take lightly.
· Consider seeing a speech pathologist
Whether you are transitioning to a transman or transwoman identity, having a voice that complements your assumed gender can significantly improve your mental health. A Speech pathologist can help you understand the technical aspects of your voice and work with you to develop the skills you need to find your gender-affirming voice.
Keep in mind that communication is a complex concept with elements that we rarely pay attention to in our day-to-day lives. Consulting a speech pathologist can help you know what to expect and work through the vocal changes you might need to get your gender-affirming voice.
· Gender-affirming voice training
Once you have consulted a licensed speech pathologist, the next practical step is signing up for gender-affirming voice training. Contrary to what scary mongers may have you believe, transgender health isn’t exclusively about surgical procedures that permanently alter their form. The first and perhaps one of the most significant care that can help transgender youth find their gender-affirming voice is voice therapy.
A gender-affirming voice training aims to help gender-diverse identities find their authentic self by aligning their communication with their assumed gender identity. You can work with an experienced speech pathologist or speech therapist who can create a personalized gender-affirming voice training program.
Depending on your personal needs, you can take part in various gender-affirming voice training sessions that can help you adjust your non-verbal communication, vocal quality, intonation, and pitch control.
· Explore hormone replacement therapy
Are you aware your hormones play a significant role in whether you sound masculine or feminine? Gender-affirming hormone therapy is one of the most sought-after gender-affirming care among trans men. As a transgender man, hormone replacement therapy can help alter your voice, making you sound more masculine. Consistently taking your hormones over time, such as testosterone, can deepen your vocal cords, helping you achieve a gender-affirming voice that complements your gender identity.
For transgender men, hormone therapy also helps develop masculine physical characteristics, including facial hair growth, muscle mass increase, and breast tissue decrease.
· Use surgical intervention to find your gender-affirming voice
Gender-affirming health care is essential in providing trans people with necessary guidance and care, including mental health services and appropriate medical necessity to affirm their gender. Gender confirmation surgery, also known as sex reassignment surgery (SRS), is a surgical procedure that can help a transgender person align their physical characteristics with their assumed gender identity. Surgery can include chest surgery, such as breast augmentation or chest reconstruction, and genital surgery, including vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, or metoidioplasty.
A sex reassignment surgery is important in helping you find your gender affirming voice because it’s a physical manifestation of your inner and most authentic self. Your physical appearance tells people who you are before you can introduce yourself. Having a body that matches your inner sense of self emboldens you to find your gender affirming voice because surgery corrects a big part of what made you feel incomplete.
· Change your legal identity
While providing LGBTQ youth mental health, hormone, and surgical treatment is important in helping them find their gender affirming voice, more needs to be done for them to feel comfortable and supported in their desired gender. In addition to medical and surgical interventions, changing your legal identity can help you feel more at ease with your transgender identity.
While changing your legal identity can be long and tedious, the benefits are worth it, especially when you want your documents to complement your trans identity. Changing your legal identity can include changing your name and gender markers on documents such as school certificates, driving licenses, or passports.
· Connect with other LGBTQ+ people
Connecting with other LGBTQ+ people can be a great way to find your gender-affirming voice. Whether it’s through online forums, support groups, or social media, connecting with other LGBTQ+ people can help you find your voice and feel more comfortable expressing yourself.
· Seek out support and guidance
One of the best ways to find your gender-affirming voice is to seek out other gay men and transgender individuals who have found their voice. They can offer guidance and support as you navigate this journey. Join a support group for gender-nonconforming people or the LGBTQ+ community for moral support. Joining a group that understands your experiences can be a great source of support. You will be surrounded by people who understand what you’re going through and can offer you guidance and encouragement.
· Take care of your body and emotional health
Your voice is an extension of your physical and emotional well-being. Taking care of your health by engaging in exercise, therapy, or journaling can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your voice.
· Experiment with public speaking
Finding your gender-affirmation voice is a long process that might involve speaking in public to enhance your voice. While working with speech pathologists from a private office prepares you to use your voice as a trans person, speaking in public helps you perfect your communication skills.
Why is gender affirmation important in society?
Gender affirmation is a broad term that encompasses various activities and strategies that make cisgender, transgender, and gender-diverse people feel safe, supported, and comfortable in their assumed gender identity. Gender affirmation is a broad term for actions involved in helping people, especially in the transgender community, live, survive, and thrive in the gender they identify with, even when it doesn’t complement their physical or biological organs.
Gender transition is a personal and unique experience. Support from friends, family and health care professionals can be crucial in helping transgender individuals navigate the process and live authentically as their true selves.
It’s important to remember that finding your gender-affirming voice is a personal journey, and there is no one right way to do it. It may take time and patience, but with self-reflection, support and guidance, you can work towards finding the voice that feels most true to yourself. Remember to be patient with yourself. Understand that it takes time to develop a gender-affirming voice.