Voices and hormones and transition – questions?

January 3, 2013 § 8 Comments

So, it’s been a while since I did those few posts and vlogs on singing and the effects of T (or not) on the voice – and I thought it was time for an update. The more I teach students (cis and trans) whose voices are breaking – or have broken – the more interesting little hints come to light. I’m afraid this is no official study – but, with such a dearth of information in the area, I thought even some anecdotal evidence might be helpful.


I’m still officially on holiday, but will try to get something written up within the next week. In the meantime – does anyone have a burning question they’d like to see answered? Leave a comment below if you do, and I’ll do my best to think of something useful to say.


§ 8 Responses to Voices and hormones and transition – questions?

  • S says:

    I’m still not entirely sure whether my voice has completely finished breaking, but I am curious if you got any of these hints from my lessons, and if so what they were 🙂 Is that an annoyingly meta question?

    • cnlester says:

      Oh, absolutely – it was just noticing that the same issues – mostly one main issue – that I’d always seen referred to as a trans male only problem in regards to singing and voices – was the same issue that my cis male students were struggling with during/after vocal growth. And that the same solutions worked for both. Which should be blindingly obvious…but there you go.

      Obviously, anonymous all the way. And I do think that your voice is still settling – which is cool, right?

  • Kay says:

    So lately I have been feeling better about myself. I know that I am a man stuck in a woman’s body. I also know that I don’t want to lose my voice if I go on T (testosterone). I enjoy my breasts but would rather not have them on me and would love to transition but am far too scared to do so due to the fact that I do not want to lose my voice. I love my mezzo soprano voice. I enjoy the fact that I can go from high soprano down to low tenor and that is due to the fact when I went through puberty I did not like my high voice and forced it down making it go lower. I know that is bad to do to your voice but it is what I did. And in the end I am happy that I did so otherwise I would not have the range that I do know. I have been classical trained in Opera and Broadway and do not wish to lose that, for I do not want to lose my voice. I wish to be seen as a man on the outside but am scared that my voice will be lost if I choose to transition. I do not wish to lose it for how I see it I would rather be trapped in a female body then lose the precious gift of my voice that was given to me by a higher power up above. I enjoy being a song bird and getting my emotions out and feeling free when I sing. For that is the only time that I feel free and able to be me is when I sing. For I am not scared to hide deep inside myself for I use music to get all my stuff/ issues off my chest and it makes me feel better after I do so. And music has always been there for me when I was at my lowest and it has helped me stay around. I do not wish to get rid of my gift. Sure I would love to go a little lower then what my range is now but I do not want to lose the high part of it. Sure I am 19 years old and my voice has not fully matured but am I afraid that my voice will not be something I will like if I do transition and I am scared of that. For I love the gift I have and love singing classical music and many other types after I have warmed up my opera voice for thirty to forty minutes depending on how long it takes for my full body to relax and get into my comfort zone. For I have been singing since I was really little. The age of three is where I remember. I sang Christian songs around the house that I had learned from Sunday school or little rhymes from preschool and it would cheer my Grandmother up and make my Granddaddy smile. They then put me into choir when I was in the first grade and I had fun with that. It was a private choir you had to pay to be in but my Grandmother saw that I had a gift and wished for me to learn to love it. Then in elementary school I sang when we had music class and I had fun with that for I went to an Art elementary when I was young. I would try out for solos and never get them and I would sing solos for the school arts festival they had once a year and have fun with that and sing at church. For when I was in elementary school I had a natural vibrato and got picked on due to it. But my Grandparents told me to be proud of my voice and just keep singing if it makes you happy. So then in fifth grade the school choir got chosen to sing an accredited local musicians music in Carnige hall in New York, New York. I was so excited to be showing off my talent to others even though I was still in a large group. I had to raise money to go and my grandmother got the idea I could sing all the Broadway songs I loved that I had been practicing at home from my favorite Broadway musicals she showed me and Disney movies I had watched and loved. I raised the money to go to Carnige hall and had tons of fun in New York. Then in fifth grade the school talent show came and I wished to sing a Christian song that I had learned from Sunday school but the school would not let me but I tried out with my Broadway song from Annie and they told me it was fine and I felt like a shining star for the first time on the school gym floor. Then I went to middle school and went to three different middle schools I started at a private Christian school for my grandparents didn’t think I was ready for the scary time of middle school and I agreed with them and went to the private one. I had fun for I could show off my voice in the winter show we had and be a star. Then I thought I was ready to go to a public middle school and joined the choir there the teacher I had when I was in the first grade was the same teacher for the middle school. So I had tons of fun and she used me where she needed me for she already knew my voice and I felt wonderful to be of help. But then some craziness happened and that school just was not the right fit for me. So I went back to the private one and was in a play and had fun. Then stated that the private one was not challenging enough intellectually for me. So they let me go to the other middle school in town that was once connected to the high school I went to. I had fun trying to work with the choir teacher and not out shine anyone but I never got solos and just blended and felt like I was just being hidden and that it was unfair but that is school for you. Then when high school hit I tried out for the choir and got in. I was happy that I was in choir and tried to fit in yet didn’t do to my voice and my Grandmother had gotten me private lessons so I had more training than the other kids in my class so I felt that the first year of high school choir was far too easy for me and I wished for the teacher to challenge me yet she just stuck me where she saw fit and hid me like the other teacher across the way did. After that I could not take choir anymore for it just felt wrong being stuck with that teacher and she taught all the other choirs and I did not wish to be stuck with her. So my Grandmother got me lessons and I enjoyed them but they just felt like it was more work then fun and I gave up every now and then but in the end went through with it all and had fun. Then my senior year of high school I decided to go back to choir and go into the all girl choir that we had, the teacher taught me lessons I will never forget and used my voice as it was meant to be used and also let me shine once and have a solo which I was so proud of. After high school I tried out college for a little bit but due to now being an out lesbian that was a rainbow after finding myself in high school which is a whole other story in its self I was happy with my voice and happy with myself other than a rough break up and thought, “Hey, maybe I can go to school for music and do something with it.” So I tried college and that was a bust due to the bullying I could not handle. So I quit college and decided hell I guess I can go into the military for I come from a military family and always saw that option open. So I signed up thinking I could go to school and work on computers and get a degree in music also and maybe one day be in the military band. Well that dream got shout out of the water when I messed up my paper work due to my recruiter not being the best but not knowing any better at the same time for he was new so I don’t blame him. And got medically discharged from the Navy which is the branch I chose to go into. When I was in separations I meet the love of my life so something bad made something good happen which was nice for life to do to me. Anyways, I meet her and meet many other people that where in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. And they all helped me figure out the real me. Then I got back home to my Grandparents and got a job and lived with my mom. I thought about music every now and then but it hardly crossed my mind for I just wanted to be with the love of my life at the time after just recently meeting her. And love can blind you from your dreams or at least it does with me being a hopeless romantic and all that. Anyways, I moved to be with her and figured out I was transgender and here I am typing this 6 months after I moved away from my hometown to be with the love of my life and trying to figure out what to do about transitioning into the man I have always been. So, I am worried about what T will do to my body and do not wish to harm myself at all. I have looked at the pros and cons medically. And have also thought of top surgery where you get your breasts removed. And I don’t know what I want to do due to the fact I do not wish to lose my grandparents that have seen so much in me and what I can do with my life if I make my mind up to it and they have always been there to help me and support me and now I am gone from them and really want to be the real me on the inside and out but do not want to throw away the one thing that has helped me in my darkest of times and that is my voice. So I guess all I have to say is I want to keep my voice and I want to be a man. But how can you do that ?

  • David Howell says:

    I understand that, in general, the voice tends to gravitate lower in pitch as one gets older. Is that (assuming it’s accurate) in any way hormonal?

    Also, to what extent would you say androgynous vocal cues are dependent upon a sufficiently low range? Or, perhaps to put another way, how low does a voice need to be to not be ‘obviously’ gendered as female?

  • Shay says:

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts! Pre-T I sang soprano one and two. I’ve been having a really hard time relearning how to harmonize. I definitely didn’t realize that so much of my musical ability was based on memorizing what I sounded like/could do.

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