GENDER AFFIRMING VOICE
Gender Affirming Voice Training may be appropriate for individuals who are looking for a safe way to develop or explore a voice that is healthy and congruent with or reflective of their gender.
Alyssa (she/her), is a speech-language pathologist and voice therapist and passionate Gender Affirming Voice Trainer. She prioritizes safety and her own learning, making sure to keep up her own cultural competence by learning from members of the community. She offers support through her extensive voice training, creativity, flexibility and experience in voice. She is passionate about helping folks to discover, develop, and maintain a voice that feels and sounds the way they want.
Sometimes referred to as Gender Voice Modification, Voice Feminization, Voice Masculinization, Voice Neutralization, Transgender Voice Training, Gender Affirming Voice Training - Alyssa takes a person-centred approach across the gender spectrum to help find and maintain a healthy and congruent voice. This means she will support your goals based on your gender and voice ideals. Alyssa also provides voice therapy for those who are looking to heal or recover from a voice injury or surgery.
Voice work is so personal and can be scary to approach. Please don't hesitate to get in touch to chat with or meet Alyssa and get a better understanding of whether she could be a good fit for you!
If you're curious about the length of time for voice training, you're not alone. This is so challenging to answer, as each program is non-prescriptive and highly individualized.
For a general idea of what training might look like, you could consider these three stages:
Develop a healthy strong voice foundation for long-lasting voice use and flexibility.
Explore a wide variety of features and colours that shape voice, in a healthy way.
Delve into advanced exploration of voice features to reinforce the ideal voice qualities you like.
Begin guiding Alyssa so she can best support you in discovering features you enjoy and feel represent you.
Grow with the voice through increasingly complex situations that require stamina, duration, projection and confidence.
Check-in to refresh training and maintain optimal voice health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trans Voice Toronto
Who is Gender Affirming Voice Training for?
Let's first acknowledge that gender affirming voice training is by no means necessary, but it might be appropriate for anyone who feels that their current voice is not representative of who they are or is not aligned with their gender. It is person-centred and non-restrictive. My clients tell me how they'd like to "slide" their voice along the Gender Spectrum, and we work on this together in a healthy way. Voice Feminization, Masculinization and Neutralization and anything in between is on the table.
What makes you a good fit for this type of work?
Well, I may not be the best fit for every individual. It's so important to meet with your clinician or coach and get a sense of fit before beginning. Some clinicians are extremely detail-oriented where I tend to be more flexible and keep overarching goals in mind. Most importantly, as a cis-woman, I can never truly understand the lived experience of so many of my clients. So, there's that!
I think what makes me good for this type of work is prioritizing the safety and needs of my clients. This means listening as best I can to what my clients want and following their lead, supporting their goals with my training. In addition, I recognize that voice comes with us everywhere, and this is why I maintain close contact (as desired) with clients between sessions. I'm always inviting clips for sharing wins and challenges and am happy to offer feedback and support between sessions.
In terms of training, I'm a registered Speech-Language Pathologist and Voice Therapist, and am also a clinically-trained Singing Voice Specialist. I love all things voice and I have a ton of tools to work with! I also work alongside an ENT doctor performing scopes of the voice to make sure it's healthy and functioning well. I spend a lot of time rehabilitating voices back to a healthy place.
I began clinically guided Gender Voice training in Nova Scotia before moving to Toronto, and have continued to learn and grow ever since. I'm constantly updating my learning through WPATH and CPATH, the 519 and the Rainbow Health Organization, and through courses and workshops - especially through Trans and Gender Non-Conforming SLPs (shout out and thanks to AC Goldberg at Transplaining!). But I've learned and continue to learn the most from the amazing folks who bring me along on their voice journeys.
What's your method?
We always start with an assessment/intake session. This is where I begin to understand what the voice goals are. I also collect some voice samples to conduct voice analysis. Any questions that are asked are clinically relevant! For example, when I ask about surgical history, it's only about head, neck and voice. We will also discuss how I can best protect your safety and privacy beyond confidential and protection of personal health information. For example, it's common practice in my clinic to keep the legal name and pronouns restricted to invoices only, and some folks also ask that I refrain from using any name at all when leaving a voice message on the phone.
Once we get started with vocal health exercises, we'll then jump into exploring any combination of resonance, pitch, quality, and articulation. We will first discover control over a wide variety of colours and tones, and then we'll tune into the ones that speak to you most. From there, we'll build stamina and consistency.
My everyday goals for myself as a clinician are to be flexible, attentive and present. I listen and learn. My role is not to impose ideals around voice goals but instead to explore how my knowledge and experience in the voice area can support the goals that are presented to me. Each person's voice journey is different.
How long does it take?
The big question! You're not going to like the answer. It's 2 parts. It's different for everyone. It takes time.
There are so many factors that may contribute to training duration, such as having a safe practice space, overall voice health, time resources, financial or insurance limitations, previous experience with voice training, and comfort exploring variations in voice.
The easiest way to conceptualize this could be using the phases touched on above.
Phase 1: Developing a flexible, strong voice that can produce a wide variety and range of colours, pitch, timbre, etc. Phase 1 might range between 4 and 8 sessions.
Phase 2: Honing in on ideal voice targets and producing them fairly consistently in planned speech and relatively comfortable situations. Phase 2 might range between 2 and 8 sessions.
Phase 3: Continuing to build consistency with ideal voice in increasingly complex variables and situations. Phase 3 might range between 4 and 8 sessions. For example, consider the difference between maintaining voice while reading at home alone for 10 minutes versus in a high-pressure hour-long interview!
The Maintenance & Tune-Up Phase is completely optional, as our work together does prioritize giving you independence. However, some clients like to come back each year for to reconnect for a quick tune-up, or to explore further nuances they've picked up on over time.
Because the duration varies so much, upfront booking or payments are never required. After each session, we'll consider a variety of variables and decide together when we should meet next and what to work on in the meantime.
I'm interested in Voice Feminization, but my pitch is really low. Is this an issue?
Usually not. As long as the voice is healthy, starting pitch is often not a barrier. Some folks choose to pair voice training with voice surgery if they have difficulty matching pitch.
I'm planning on or have already completed Voice Feminization Surgery. Can you still help?
Yes! I can help with post-op recovery and, if you wish, delve into voice training components. Voice feminization surgery only changes the pitch of the voice, which is a small component of voice training.
Does HRT affect the pitch of my voice?
Testosterone lowers the pitch of the voice. Estrogen, Estradiol and Spironolactone will not change the pitch of the voice.
I'm on Testosterone but am not satisfied with the sound or quality of my voice. Would voice training help?
People who wish to masculinize their voice participate in voice training if they are dissatisfied with the timbre, tone, or stamina of the voice. Frequent goal areas include voice resonance, projection and stability.
When can I start?
Whenever you feel ready. I do not require referrals. I am occasionally asked if I require completion of various transition-related items to begin - the answer is absolutely not! Come as you are. All I ask is that you come, to the best of your ability, with a flexible and creative mind, and patience. If you are 17 or younger, guardian consent is required, but guardians are not required to participate or attend.
Does this qualify for private insurance coverage?
Yes, since I am registered Speech-Language Pathologist, in-person and online sessions should be eligible under "speech therapy" or "paramedical" services. Check with your insurance booklet or provider if you are unsure of budgets, as there's no way for me to know this information.
Trans Voice Toronto
Transgender Voice Toronto