Protection from Loss of Voice
Once upon a time, in 2006, I found language to describe an experience I thought had no name. New words emerged from my tongue, and I came out as a trans fag at age 19. My name became Elliott. A few years later, I flattened my chest. The path of testosterone medicine felt like an instinctive part of this coming home to myself, my body, an inevitable and indispensable piece of my transformation, yet I've been delaying this "second puberty" for over eleven years.
The one and only reason I haven't taken testosterone yet is my urge to preserve my singing voice.
As an active member of the trans community for many years, I've met countless people who said they used to be able to sing freely, until testosterone injections stretched out their larynx in ways that made it very strained and difficult to sing.
So I decided that singing was more important to me than gender embodiment.
Singing is my primary form of expression, release, catharsis. Singing is my medicine. Singing is like breathing to me, and imagining a restricted voice was almost like imagining a restricted ability to breathe.
But the choice to delay this latent desire for testosterone has not been easy. The ability to sing with my familiar range and tone has come at a high cost; the exhaustion of pushing up against my future like a bulldozer inching towards me.
At age 31, a lifetime of dysphoria takes its toll:
The constant, visceral feeling of being a walking ghost who is haunting a body that is not my own...
The cumulative frustration of being mistaken for a female or a 14 year old boy on a daily basis...
Resisting my instincts to dress in the flamboyant colors and patterns I crave, sticking to drab solid tones to experience less constant misgendering...
It all builds up, like a thousand paper cuts coalescing into one giant buried wound. The only way I have gotten through it is by allowing myself, regularly, to grieve.
The strongest person in the world can only cling to the edge of a cliff for so long before gravity eventually triumphs.
I've gained much strength through this resistance, but I can feel my muscles giving way to the force of my body's internal voice, telling me it's time to finally take the plunge...
So, I just filled my first prescription for testosterone.
As my ghost-body merges with my physical form, as muscles expand and a coat of fur sprouts to the surface, what will happen to my ability to sing?
I am walking into the unknown.
Meanwhile, I have met a rare few determined souls who share my path and have been able to maintain a wide vocal range with steady tone.
Almost all of them have taken consistent voice lessons and/or have sustained a disciplined regimen of daily vocal exercises.
(So I find myself asking, How could voice lessons squeeze into my already-restricted-budget? How can I keep the hustle for survival from interfering with my ability to find time to work on my voice?)
This April, a week after my birthday, I was invited to perform at the Transgender Voices Festival in Minneapolis, MN. Such incredible timing for the inauguration of the first of this type of a trans-vocalist gathering, right as I'm finally starting to change my voice. A full weekend of performances by all-trans choirs and solo trans vocalists. And during the day, workshops on topics like how hormones change the voice, and vocal coaching for trans people. The festival is offering me a small stipend, but it's not enough to cover the full flight and travel costs.
So I am reaching out to friends and listeners of my music for support in covering the costs of this journey.
Any extra that is raised will go towards voice lessons as I learn how to use the new instrument of my deepening voice. Any amount is greatly appreciated. And whether you donate 5 dollars or 500, I will take you with me on my journey: monthly recordings that track my progress will be sent to your inbox if you so desire.
Contributions can be sent via paypal: firstname.lastname@example.org