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Transgender Voices

Many choruses include individuals who identify as transgender, cross-gender or gender nonbinary. The resources on this page offer information about trans and nonbinary gender experience and voice transition. If you are a trans or nonbinary singer, this page is for you!

Hoping to make your own chorus a more inclusive space? Download Creating Inclusive Choirs to share with your chorus director and encourage them to explore the Teacher section of this Resource Center.

Voice Range Transition

Singers who take testosterone as they transition from female to male (F2M) will experience a voice range transition much like the transition that occurs for boys during puberty. A singer may transition from a soprano or alto range down as far as a bass range. The vocal folds both lengthen and thicken for boys that experience voice transition in puberty thus lower the voice pitch. An F2M individual that takes testosterone as an adult will experience only the thickening of the vocal folds which lowers the pitch of the voice but their vocal chords will not lengthen with this transition.

Singers transitioning from male to female (M2F) have a different experience since Estrogen does not reverse the thickening of vocal folds. Many M2F individuals are able to train their voice to speak at a higher pitch and some singers are able to train their voices to sing in falsetto although this is much more challenging and requires a skilled singer and voice teacher. Here is an example of a male-born singer utilizing his falsetto range.

This article contains more detailed information about general vocal fold function.

Since many transgender individuals in GALA choruses simply sing in their own vocal range it is important that choruses and conductors are sensitive to gender awareness and utilize inclusive gender language within chorus sections.

Transgender Voice Training

Regular vocal health is important during gender transition especially for singers taking testosterone. Hydration, rest and gentle use of the voice will help a singer to transition smoothly.

Check out the videos workshops below by Lisa Butcher, Anita Kozan, and Mari Esabel Valverde.

Veronica Grace offers some simple daily warm-ups for individuals in vocal transition.

Therapist Shelagh Davies describes the process of vocal transition in this outline of her training workshop.

Check out GALA's Singer Voice for more warm-ups and vocal care tips.

Resources

Transgender Glossary - PDF

If you are a conductor, music teacher or voice teacher be sure to check out the Teacher section.

Transgender GALA

GALA offers a discussion group for transgender individuals and allies interested in conversations regarding trans experience, gender language and helping to create a trans-friendly community within GALA choruses. Send a request to subscribe.

Expanding Definitions of Woman - PDF
Mari Esabel Valverde’s workshop note from the Transgender Voices Festival.

Trans Vocal Function and Modification - PDF
Erin Donahue’s workshop for transgender vocal performers includes lots of great detail on the physiology behind trans voice. Entire workshop video coming soon!

Video Central - Workshops

Heights and Depths of Vocal Liberation (59 min)
Wendy Vastine

Raising All Voices (67 min)
Creating and Facilitating Gender Inclusive Spaces – Alex Iantaffi

Nurturing the Voice (87 min)
Techniques and Exercises for a Healthy Transition – Lisa Butcher, Anita Kozan

Expanding Definitions of 'Woman' (65 min)
Singing Authentically (coaching session) – Mari Esabel Valverde

More videos on the Teacher page.

Trans Voices

Video Central - Shorts

Harmonies Inside (2:37 min)
Original music video with songwriter Osprey Huffsmith, featuring Transgender Voices Festival singers.

Joselyn’s Story (7:58 min)
Singer, composer, and parent – meet Joselyn!

Exploring Trans Voice (4:06 min)
Trans and nonbinary singers on the topic of voice.

The Reason for the Festival (7:08 min)
A conductor’s journey to learn about trans voices and the birth of the Transgender Voices Festival!

Transgender Voices Festival Montage (5:55 min)
Trans Voices Festival wrap-up and sizzle!