How to Find Your Authentic Voice – Top Tips from Leading Speech & Language Therapists

Speech and Language Therapists Matthew Mills and Gillie Stoneham work at the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic in London. They help transgender and non-binary clients to find and maintain their authentic voice. Here, they share some useful tips on how to develop the voice that feels true to you. 

Your voice is a totally unique and personal expression of your whole self. It enables you to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas, to form meaningful relationships and tell your story. We cannot hide our voice and when we speak it reveals something about our age, gender, emotional state, culture, education. It is a very human experience to feel vulnerable when we speak, especially in front of a group or where we feel the stakes are high. Whilst the unique quality of your voice is partly determined by your body, voice is something which we do. It is an activity that can be crafted and developed. With exploration and practice, you can find and sustain the voice which fits with you. Everyone will have different and highly individual goals.

When working on your voice:

  • Practice regularly, little and often
  • Be curious and keep a spirit of play
  • Develop self-awareness without judging. What do you notice?
  • Focus not so much on how your voice sounds to you but on how it feels – for example, the vibration on your lips or the feeling of width in your larynx when you add smile
  • Debunk stereotypes: be aware of expectations that come with gendered voice and communication. Develop communication and identity cues which express and fit with you
  • Keep your voice healthy and hydrated by drinking 6 small cups of water across the day

Voice feminisation involves:

  • Starting pitch work at a comfortable note such as E3 (165Hz) with lots of repetition of sounds
  • Moving onto higher pitches – F3 (175Hz), G3 (196Hz) and A3 (220Hz) but not higher – these are pitches where you aim the start of your sentence, and from there your voice will move up and down according to your specific meaning.
  • Developing a brighter resonance in your voice which you feel more in your face rather than in your chest
  • Developing vocal awareness through your practice so that you achieve a clean vocal note, without strain or constriction in your larynx

Voice masculinisation involves:

  • Discovering chest resonance through opening up the space at the back of your mouth called the pharynx. Taking testosterone will lower your pitch over a period of 18 months but you still need to develop the tone – the resonance. For example, imagine that you are yawning when you speak, then reduce that a little
  • Experiencing your voice as more part of your body – so that the ribs swing wide, and that the breath pressure is supported by dynamic support from your abdomen
  • Finding communication cues which may be more direct and assertive

Voice gender-neutralisation is highly individual and involves:

  • Exploring resonance in the chest, pharynx and face
  • Discovering more rib swing, more dynamic support from your abdomen and more voice-body connection
  • Finding communication cues which may be more direct and assertive

Remember, voice development is a process of discovery which takes time. The more you put in, the more you will get back. Enjoy it. Taking risks with how you sound will enable you to develop greater confidence and self-acceptance. Work with us through the book and we will help you to dare to be you and discover your authentic voice.

For more information on Matthew and Gillie’s new book, The Voice Book for Trans and Non-Binary People, follow this link.

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