I don’t know whether it was the cold air that had switched on this week, enough to bring out the fingerless gloves from storage and the scarf that speaks volumes about rustic leaves carpeting the ground through the park. There was something that triggered it without preparing myself or expecting it. I’d ordered the pot of tea, paid and it was the simple expression “Thank you.”
I’m not saying I have the most masculine voice. It depends what mood I’m in, how much sleep I’ve had, how bad a cold I may have or how much I have unusually had to drink the night before. Whatever the circumstances, that day I simply made an order at the cafe and as I spoke this little soft feminine voice came out and said “Thank you.”
I swear, if I had a full-on summer dress and ribbons in my hair it would have been the cherry on the iced bun in the cabinet of passing; of course if it was a summer dress I’d have probably have been shivering from autumn frosted air. I smiled and took my tea to the table along with my newly discovered little voice.
There are so many ways I can see affirmation about who I am, or at least like to be, whether it be clothes, hair, body language, interests, expression, nails, body shape, scent — toes nail! but when it’s something like the voice, one of the last few fears of rejection, especially without thought and without trying, then something so simple becomes so valuable for validation.
What would be so amazing is if this little voice was something that could be so easily tapped into like an undiscovered talent for playing music, or an ability to paint that once found it can never be turned off and is so natural, genuine and authentic. A voice that didn’t have to be thought about and pushed like a falsetto and then dropped when stressed or not where I felt it mattered. Like Hinge and Bracket when one would drop her voice to lower tones — briefly; it was funny because it wasn’t about affirmation but entertainment.
My voice is one of the few things I haven’t done anything about. Sure, the Gender Clinic wrote a letter to my GP recommending vocal counselling of some kind but I already knew, while the psychiatrist wrote it on her notes to send a letter from London, that it wouldn’t be funded and if that was something that would happen it wouldn’t be through my GP, I would have to go private and pay for it myself. “My local NHS won’t fund that —”, I said, “They won’t even fund hair removal.” Though it was possible to get hair removal prescription cream off-label, that in itself was a bit of a waste of time and money.
“Let’s put it down anyway. It couldn’t hurt to try.”
Then again, the one thing I’ve learnt from my journey in the last several years, especially when being around other transgender people in the past and their experiences, is the number one thing to remember — be yourself. Do we really have to alter our voices to suit others just to justify who we are and our gender? In essence we don’t need to do anything of the sort and by that nature it makes the gender clinic’s methods seem antiquated.
The gender clinic though do what they do for good reason. For instance, the clinic in London usually insist, unless pushed with good reason, that hormones are not started until you’ve told your significant others, work place and generally being female fully time. They don’t do this to be difficult or out of malice but because their research and experience has shown that it makes for an easier transition of your life. This is a bit of a catch twenty-two, of course, because some find it hard to live in the role without hormones because they are on the whole masculine and that in itself presents difficulties.
With the voice I think it’s no different and like our catch twenty-two those with lower tone and less varying voices might find it difficult to be out there without any vocal coaching. I have been blessed in some respects that my voice is somewhere between and may be I have something to work with but for those without this then may be there needs to be a tailored approach, with every aspect of “deportment“; a word I hate when it comes to gender identity.
When I think of the transgender people I’ve known in the past, those who I’ve known from both their male and female presentation where it’s felt like I’ve met two people, or another where it’s just Jeff in a Dress, or some where I could see that it was just one person that just happened to wear different things at different times and then someone who I’d only known in their female role and to me they were always a women without doubt. I couldn’t see the male in them what so ever.
Different people on different journeys and some surprising outcomes and some who just stayed on the same track they were always on. For some they are happy to be who they are and just present as female as possible and get on with their lives where as others had changed, fundamentally, who they are to become someone else entirely.
For me it’s about just being me and some of that means opening the filter and allowing through the rest of me that’s being held back to keep others happy and life simpler. May be part of that is finding that little voice again and allowing it to progress and become part of that identity coming through the open filter. That said, there is more to a conversation than just “thank you”, but it’s a starting point.
Until next time.