Transgender people undergo many physical, mental, and psychological transitions in order to feel happy, healthy, and at home with themselves and their bodies. As part of these transitions, the role of speech therapy can be an important instrument to feeling comfortable in their chosen gender. Our voices can tell us and others a lot about who we are, and because of this, being able to change one’s voice to reflect one’s personality is an important component to transitioning.
Speech therapy for transgender people encompasses a wide variety of goals.
From changing one’s tone, pitch, or volume to reflect a more feminine or masculine sound, to picking up speech patterns marked as feminine or masculine, working with a speech pathologist can help a transgender individual feel confident in their gender expression.
For a transgender client undergoing such therapy, it is important for their speech pathologist to take a holistic, respectful approach in helping a client reach their intended goals. From using the right gender pronouns, to taking into consideration how hormone treatment or gender reassignment surgery might have on the pitch and volume of a person’s voice, the therapist must devise an individualized plan for the person. Fortunately, there are practitioners who are formulating guidelines to take care of their transgender patients, respecting their identities and aiming to promote their client’s overall gender health.
Speech refinement for transgender people still has a way to go, in terms of providing different modes of treatment. For example, there is still little research and development for helping someone develop bi-modal speech patterns (the ability to use two different modes of speech to maintain two different genders). But as more and more people seek speech therapy as part of their transitioning, there will continue to be improvements in the practice.
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