As part of their transition process, transgender individuals can benefit from gender-affirming speech therapy services. As our speaking voices are an audible way to present who we are to the world, speech therapy services provide the support transgender individuals need to align their voice and communication style with their preferred gender.
“Voice is a gender signifier. Although some people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth are happy with their voices, others yearn to change the way they sound, often as they transition from one gender presentation to another.”– “The Sound of One’s Own Voice”, The Magazine of Harvard Medical School
Overwhelming Interest in Gender-Affirming Therapy
Great Speech has received an overwhelming number of requests for gender-affirming voice therapy services and recently offered specialized training to our network of more than 200 licensed speech therapists across the nation. This training was led by speech language therapists with direct experience in voice therapy and working with the transgender/non-binary population, as well as input from a speech-language therapist who has transitioned to her preferred gender. This training highlighted that the best approach to caring support includes:
- Cultural competency
- An honest approach
- Be curious, humble and brave
Speech Therapy Can Aid in Realignment of Communication Skills
Gender-affirming speech-language services can help transgender individuals explore how to use their voice and communication skills as well as encourage positive vocal health, an important component for anyone learning to use their voice in a new way.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA), speech therapy can support transgender individuals interested in communication realignment by focusing on physical characteristics, such as speech tone and intonation as well as non-verbal skills. This is also a service that employers can add to existing benefit plans for transgender employees. This innovative and highly specialized level of care also addresses diversity equity & inclusion (DEI) and Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), helping individuals to resolve the challenge of vocal health which may be impacting mental/behavioral health such as social isolation and loneliness, as well as academic or employment issues.
Focus areas for speech and voice training includes:
- Pitch modification – Speech therapists can help alter the speaking pitch of the voice to sound higher or lower.
- Resonance – Resonance training helps voices to stay healthy and can help modify voices that are unnaturally high or low, too light or too heavy, to match the individual’s gender identity.
- Prosody – Prosody refers to intonation, stress pattern, loudness variations, pausing, and rhythm. Individuals express prosody by varying pitch, loudness, duration or greater articulatory force to emphasize a word or phrase and to avoid sounding flat or robotic.
- Articulation – Articulation exercises help an individual to use the muscles in their mouth, lips, teeth, tongue, and jaw to produce sounds that support an individual’s gender-identity. For example, speakers who make more precise consonants and vowels may be perceived as more feminine, while those who use less precise articulation may be perceived as more masculine.
- Word choice – Word choice includes hoosing words that reflect gendered ways of speaking.
- Body language – The focus of body language, or nonverbal communication, training may include gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and posture.
As a provider of virtual speech therapy nationwide, Great Speech provides an accessible means for transgender patients to receive speech therapy services discreetly and comfortably. These services are also helpful for those individuals who may be in geographic areas where this specialized speech and language therapy is not available locally.
To learn more about our specialized services for transgender individuals, get started by scheduling your introductory call today.