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Is It Something I Said?

“All right then sir, we have you booked for 2:30 to have your bangs trimmed.” That was the last bit of communication to come over the phone about a month or so ago when I decided my hair would look much better with thicker bangs. I’m sure you caught the “sir” in there; I know I sure did. Honestly, when in the world has a dude ever booked an appointment for himself, identified multiple times as ‘Michelle”, to have his bangs done? Do guys even have bangs, like ever? I think you see the problem. In spite of the nature of the call, and enthusiastic identification as female, I was read right over the phone. Naturally I thought I was using my girliest voice.

It’s not good when one’s girliest voice makes people wonder if that’s Ron Perlman standing behind them. No one likes being mistaken for Ron Perlman, especially when they identify as female. My real problem is that I actually think I am doing a female voice because that is the way it sounds to me. Not so much, however, when it’s played back on tape. Dear lord do I hate that! Sure, fooling myself works wonders for allowing me to actually speak to people, but that doesn’t buy me a whole lot in terms of passing as female. Like I don’t have enough strikes against me in that department. Yeah, it was time to woman up and do something about that.

My ex, who has an amazingly talented singing voice and superior vocal control, attempted to give me some pointers. This was frustrating. Very frustrating. It kind of went along the same lines as when I attempt to talk her through something highly technical over the phone with a bad connection, and both of us are eating extra crunchy chips. While I totally trusted everything she had to say on the subject was rock solid accurate, I also had little to no idea what any of it meant. My initial efforts sounded like the love child of Minnie Mouse and Goofy. Not so good. It didn’t take long to give this up, which was probably for the best. It’s not like this process has been super easy on our living situation to begin with.

I tried taking the next easier route and did some Googling. Ah the web, where anything you want is absolutely free, unless of course you want it to be accurate, and then it costs. I found plenty of sales pitches for computer based modules, modules on CD, DVD instruction, and even VHS and Betamax instruction. I’m not sure why these are still being sold, but whatever, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Learning conversational Tagalog using the Rosetta Stone seemed more simplistic. That teach yourself shit never really works for me, because as with everything else, I usually zone out and stop paying attention in less than a minute. Know your own drawbacks, right? Even the guys who work for me know to covey the relevant point in 20 seconds of less or face glazed eyes. I digress, and probably lost everyone out there who has my own attention span. Serves me right!

No, I was going to need professional intervention and took the roundabout way of looking for it. “Say, anyone else going to vocal therapy?” No answer, as typical anytime I reach out of the local trans community here. With a notable exception or two, I get the impression there are not a lot of writers among us. I was finally directed to an actual medical intervention option. I liked the sound of that, because it carried hope that my insurance would cover it. Sweet. I gave them a call and immediately found that I needed a prescription. Seriously, a prescription. For vocal training. Yes fine, I’ll call back when I have one. Jeesh. Luckily I had my endo appointment that week and she was very happy to run one off for me. I’ve come to notice that doctors get really excited when you dramatically increase your health and fitness levels when under their care, and they can be soooo accommodating after! Glad I started with her when I was a big hot mess.

Well, I just went to the first appointment and my therapist is a real peach and shares my sense of humor. Apparently in my wretched attempts to sound more female, I actually sound more male than ever. Well, that’s just great. Now I’ll never speak publically again! It was OK though, she promised to help me make dramatic improvements. The best part is that she has equipment. Fancy equipment that only runs on a Window’s 95 machine for some reason. It lets me see my tone, pitch and inflections plotted against a red line that divides perceived male from perceived female. While I can’t hear the difference, the machine can, and I understand the difference of what my mouth feels like when I’m on the female side of the line. Sure, I’ll never have the melodious dulcet tones of a Diana Agron or even Bea Arthur (someone the therapist explained had a better voice than I did), but I also won’t have legions of Ron Perlman fans asking me for an autograph unless my reflection is worse than I think also.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

13 responses »

  1. If it makes you feel better people still mistake my mother for a man even when she says Lynda. I personally think it’s the cigarettes talking.

    Reply
  2. Lots and lots of good luck with the vocal training. I was going to share a tip, but now that you’re working with a pro I’ll keep my trap shut 🙂

    Reply
    • No, no! Please share if so inclined. I’m always open for a tip or two. 🙂

      Reply
      • Not sure where I learned this, maybe it was way back when I was in a church choir as a kid or something I read more recently. Try placing a couple of fingers lightly on the voice box area of your trachea then make some ‘la la la’ sounds. You should be able to feel the position of the point of resonance and as you raise the pitch of your voice it will move upward. Once you find a comfortable sound for your new voice you can develop a kind of ‘body memory’ of it’s position.

        For me trying to lower my voice back down to it’s former tone feels incredibly wrong and it leaves me with a strange tickle in my throat like I’m going to cough LoL

        Much good luck 🙂

        Reply
  3. The phone I get the about half the time, in person very rarely, I would love to get around getting that all together, I wonder if I ever will, I’m getting better with my voice my mom gave me a tape recorder it really has helped. Michelle it takes time and you will get there, your a wonderful friend and one of the nicest women I have ever met, god love you, and I do mean the nice one that we know:)
    Love, Erin

    Reply
  4. Hey Sis,

    I struggle with the voice thing too. If you get some clues to help, please share.
    I think having your ex help you with voice lessons is a lot like when my Dad tried to teasch my Mom how to drive, doomed to failure.

    Thanks for sharing something that is a real challenge for many of us, and thanks again for thinning out the choices of topics for me to use. 🙂

    Love,

    Becky

    Reply
    • Hey Sis,

      Such a pleasure finally connecting!! I’ll be happy to pass along tips, but I think you are already doing great on your own. I’m good about the sharing though, cause the last think I need is you telling mom.

      I know what you mean on the topics! Fortunately, something you said actually gave me a new one, and thank you sis! BTW – my ex even thinks that we write alike – she followed the link to your blog. 🙂

      Love,

      Michelle

      Reply
  5. Well that was a great read! I didn’t know anything about vocal therapy and have been considering it myself. Your description of how it works is quite helpful. I seriously doubt I’d be going to the same place as you, but it’s good to know that it exists.

    Reply
    • Good luck to you Emily! And thanks! I know, every tiny little bit helps. I really think the rest of my life is going to be ironing out the big wrinkles, only to notice so many more of the smaller ones looking obvious and needing attention and so on.

      Love,

      Michelle

      Reply
  6. Carrie L. Pierce

    Hmmmm you were still a man when you said you’d buy me a cup of coffee…… now you’re a woman…. do you still owe me a cup of coffee? I’m not letting you off the hook on this one “mikie’ ! lol. Seriously though, you are the bravest friend i have and i read your blogs, and i support you on your journey 100%.. and i do miss you old friend.

    Reply
    • Hey Carrie! Yes, I’d still totally buy you a cup of coffee. Too bad there isn’t an excellent restaurant called ‘Old Lake Erie’ yet to order it from. Just curious if you remember that. 🙂 Thank you so much for the support and the compliments, and I miss you too. Still the same old friend, just wrapped up a bit different.

      Reply

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