A group of four young, gender-fluid adults sitting on the couch with their arms around each other posing for the camera.


Gender-affirming voice therapy helps people find their true voice

  • Gender-affirming voice therapy helps people achieve a voice they feel matches their identity.
  • The respiratory, phonatory and articulation systems determine how your voice sounds.
  • Modifying how your voice sounds without proper guidance can injure vocal cords.

Communication is key to connecting with the people around us, and the voice plays a vital role in the process. Having a voice that doesn’t align with your gender or identity can be difficult. For members of the transgender community, it can affect their mental health and safety. We asked Allina Health speech therapists to share some key points about the voice works and how to modify it.

What is gender-affirming voice therapy?

Research shows there are certain voice pitches and body language movements that people perceive as feminine, masculine or androgynous. Gender-affirming voice therapy helps people modify how they communicate to match their gender.

When speech therapists see patients, we ask them how they want to sound. Often, they have examples of voices—female, male or androgynous—they aspire to have.

What’s in a voice?

Changing your voice isn’t as easy as it sounds. Altering the pitch and tone of your voice without understanding how the process works can injure or strain the vocal cords. As speech pathologists, we work with three main systems to help patients gradually change their voices in a healthy way.

  • The respiratory system supports the voice through your breath.
  • The phonatory system creates the voice.
  • The articulation system, including the teeth, mouth and jaw, manipulates the voice.

What to expect during voice therapy

During speech therapy, we make subtle changes to how the patient uses those systems to produce their voice. Most of our patients meet with a speech therapist once a week for four to eight weeks. We’re always checking to ensure they’re comfortable with the changes  in their voice. We want to know if they like the sound, and if it feels comfortable to produce it. We also make sure the changes feel affirming to the patient, and that they like how people perceive them.

Our patients walk away with exercises they can use for the rest of their lives to safely create the voice they want. It's amazing when we play a recording of a patient's voice from when they began therapy and compare it to their last day of therapy. They get to hear the amazing progress they’ve made.


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