'Voice has no gender': University speech clinic offers 'gender affirming voice care'

A Mar. 24 news release from the Metropolitan State University of Denver describes 'gender affirming voice care' offered free of charge to Denver's transgender community.

Graduate student clinicians at the Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) are offering voice therapy for Denver’s transgender community. 

A client going by the pseudonym “Rose” told an MSU Denver news service on Mar. 24 that, before therapy, he felt “dysphoric” about his voice. 

“It was a difficult thing to learn,” Rose continues, describing the process of developing a feminine voice in his transition from male to female. “I was hoping it was something I could adjust a couple of knobs on and approach it almost mathematically or scientifically. But it’s so much more of an art.”

The “gender affirming voice care” services are available at MSU Denver’s Speech-Language Clinic. Graduate students gain clinical hours by providing the services, and clients can access them at no cost, according to MSU Denver’s news service. 

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Rose says that “[a] voice has no gender” and is instead “what [people] collectively decide it sounds like, how it makes [them] feel and what it reminds [them] of.”

One of the gender-specific voice connotations noted by the news service is that resonance coming from the chest yields a deeper, more masculine timbre. Feminine sounds, by contrast, often originate in the head and throat. 

The news release from MSU Denver is the latest instance of a university announcing how its programs and services accommodate transgender students.  

At the University of Houston (UH), the LGBTQ Resource Center maintains a list showing that UH offers transgender housing and voice therapy. Biological men, Campus Reform reported, can participate on women’s sports teams, and UH will use students’ preferred pronouns and names in official documents. 

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Other universities, however, are rolling back these programs and services. 

Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, recently announced the appointment of its next president, C. Shane Reese, who has claimed that facilitating gender transitions defies BYU’s stated values. 

In a letter to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that Reese sent in Mar. 2022, he defended the university’s decision to halt gender-affirming voice therapy at an on-campus clinic. 

Reese’s letter came after ASHA, a professional and credentialing organization, criticized the decision in a Feb. 2022 statement. 

“BYU,” Reese writes, made a “religious mission-based decision” because its sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, advises against social transition. 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly. 

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