Voice feminization is an integral step in the journey undergone by transgender individuals seeking gender confirmation. But what is voice feminization exactly, and why is it so important?
What It is
Voice feminization is a process where a man’s voice is altered so that it can be higher pitched like a female’s. A man’s vocal cords are longer, which produce a deeper sound and more vibrations. These differences are very distinct and defining when it comes to a person’s gender.
How It is Done
The minimally invasive procedure is done by surgically shortening the vocal cords. This allows for them to produce a higher pitched sound while simultaneously disallowing for the deepest or lowest pitches to be made. If a transgender person was born with an exceptionally deep baritone, the plastic surgeon may also need to shorten the throat itself for maximum results.
It is important to realize results are not immediate with this surgery, however. The vocal chords, once able to be used again, will slowly begin to make more feminine noises. Ultimate results will not occur for several months after the procedure is completed.
Why it Is Important
Voice feminization is often the last step taken for transgender individuals undergoing their gender confirming journey. Facial feminization and gender reassignment surgery can make you look like a woman, but femininity is so much more than just appearance.
When people think of a woman, they think of a person who is soft, gentle, kind, and beautiful. The voice plays a very large part in that. Any media, from books to movies, portray the typical woman as one with a soft, sweet voice. Often, this is the goal of those undergoing a transgender journey from male to female. Being able to confirm their gender with a voice which sounds as they believe it should can help to build confidence.
The first time a transgender person hears their new voice can be liberating and exciting. Results may not be immediate, but as they slowly listen to their vocal ranges reach the higher tones of the female voice, it finally sinks in that they are finally who they were always meant to be.
There is an extensive recovery period with voice feminization surgery. You will not be able to speak for two full weeks to allow the vocal cords ample time to heal. This can be very hard for individuals but using text messages or writing things down in a notebook can assist in communicating with others. After the two weeks, however, you can resume normal speaking. Do not attempt screaming, singing, or anything else which strains your voice for several months.
Although risks and complications are incredibly rare, every surgery has potential side effects. Since this is a minimally invasive procedure, most of the risks lie in the anesthesia used. Allergies are possible, though rare. There is also a very small risk of infection, or permanent damage to the vocal cords.