Jordan Gabbitas is transitioning from male to female. The 28-year-old transgender woman started taking hormonal therapy in October 2016 to prepare for her transition. She began wearing stylish, feminine clothing and makeup publicly. Although she appears feminine, Gabbitas wanted her tonal pitch to match her outer appearance.
Today, a Provo, Utah speech clinic is teaching Gabbitas how to alter the tone of her voice. The young transgender woman is taking speech sessions at the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. The facility provides free speech therapy to transgender patients. The university started the program in late 2017. It already has six participants, including two teens.
Gabbitas works weekly with a graduate student. The researcher teaches Gabbitas how to raise her pitch without straining her vocal chords. She repeats vowels, phrases, and holds conversations to measure her inflection. "It's really important to me that my voice matches my gender identity," Gabbitas explained to the Salt Lake Tribune. "Raising that up to a range where people hear it and think of it as female can help just not give a way to out myself because my voice is too low."
Setting the Tone
Getting the pitch right is important. It can clear up confusion about individual's gender identity, especially during phone calls. Individuals speaking to transgender females cannot see their shoulder-length hair or feminine clothing. Their register may sound low.
Testosterone expands the vocal chords of individuals transitioning from female to male. Male vocal chords do not contract when they take estrogen to transition to women. Some transgendered women rely on YouTube video tutorials to help them adjust their pitch. The courses, however, do not provide feedback training. There's no one listening to hear if they're straining.
There is more to speaking like a woman than just pitch. There are metalinguistic clues. Females speak through their heads rather than their chests. They also gesticulate with their hands, use adjectives, and make eye contact when communicating. The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions speech clinic allows patients to hear their voices and adjust their tones.
Speech Therapy work with Transgender Patients
Wendy Chase is an assistant professor in speech pathology at the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. The researcher said that transitioning females are fighting against male anatomy. She believes that speech therapy can help transgender patients.
Chase primarily works with stroke patients. The speech researcher began working with transgender patients at the University of Connecticut's speech clinic in 2010. A transgender colleague, named Alice, asked the scientist for help to alter her vocal pitch.
Chase began studying the topic. She eventually revised and built a program to help transgender patients at the Connecticut clinic that she left in 2017. The Utah speech researcher believes that pitch and body language become a habit. In the future, Chase believes that Gabbitas won't have to think about the way she talks.
The speech therapy process lasts two months to four years. Gabbitas will be finished with sessions when she likes her voice.
Completing her Transition
Gabbitas grew up in a Mormon family in Payson, Utah. She knew since the age of seven that her gender did not match with her identity. During high school, she tried on dresses. She watched videos of people transitioning their gender and admired them. At 27 years old, she decided to transition. This form of therapy is another piece to help her successfully complete her transition.
If you're looking to hire a speech therapist for your business, Staffing Plus, Inc. can help. To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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