Voice Therapy for Male to Female Transsexuals

Susan Clark

MRCSLT, M.Phil., Head Speech and Language Therapist, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Gendys Conference, 2000


The aim of voice therapy is to feminise the voice so that it does not attract attention. The voice should possess the correct blend of pitch, loudness and quality combined with feminine mannerisms.

Therapy is an acting technique; we all act in varying degrees. The nature of transsexualism often produces individual psychological barriers that may inhibit free expression.

Build up a firm foundation not skipping any of the points below.

To achieve acceptable voice is difficult. Take plenty of time and don't be afraid of appearing foolish.


In order to breathe correctly and project your voice you need to be relaxed. This particularly applies to the head, neck and shoulder muscles. Don't hunch your shoulders.


Keep an upright posture. Stooping doesn't disguise height. It looks ugly and it will be difficult to take a deep breath.

3. Breathing.

You must take a deep breath at the level of the diaphragm. Put your hands on your rib cage and, if you are breathing correctly, your lungs will push your ribcage out as you breathe in


Try to raise the pitch to a realistic level. Remember some women have deep voices; older women can sound similar to their male counterparts. Many transsexuals are big built and would sound ridiculous with a high pitched voice.

Don't try to talk in a falsetto voice. It does not sound natural and could cause damage to the larynx. If you have difficulty raising the pitch, initiate an 'AH' sound in a high pitch and take the voice down until a comfortable pitch is reached without the voice breaking.


Concentrate on oral resonance. Attempt an 'AH' sound in the chest, then the neck and finally the mouth. Moving resonance from the chest to the mouth gives the illusion of raising the pitch; men tend to speak from the chest which emphasises the lower notes of the voice. To feel this sensation place the finger tips lightly at the top of the chest, then say a phrase with the 'm' consonant, e.g. "my mom's monkey makes more mischief." If you can feel the vibrations with your fingertips you are using too much chest resonance. Try repeating the phrase using less chest resonance, until you cannot feel the vibration. You will learn to speak more easily and eventually from the mouth and throat. Aim for minimum vibration in the chest and maximum vibration in your mouth and forehead.


Softening the voice involves controlling your breath so that air is let out slowly in a controlled way while you are speaking. Male voices use harder attack. Women have a softer attack giving the impression of softness. While breathy voice quality can make the voice sound more feminine, the listener needs to be able to hear what is being said.

Say words with the 'm,' or 'h' consonant and then without the consonant, aiming for the voice to be as soft without the consonant with it. e.g. h-at m- eat.

Record your voice on an audio tape and monitor feedback. Remember no-one likes the sound of their own voice!

Listen to how women speak, particularly those in your peer group. Note inflexions and the turn of phrase that women use.


Sing along with records. This helps to slow down your voice and gives better breath control.

Speak the song using the same breath technique as for singing. Finish each phrase in a breath as you would in singing.

The singer 'thinks' the starting note and the vocal cords tense to produce the correct pitch. Prepare the speaking voice in the same way, focusing on a note.

Practice short phrases using effortless breath support – try to produce a musical note which can glide up and down on supported breath.

8. Telephone.

Talking on the telephone can be difficult. Mention your name as soon as possible so that the listener is aware of your gender. Practise exercises for short periods when starting therapy to avoid vocal misuse.

The difference between the way men and women speak.

  1. Women's vocabulary differs from men. Speech is less assertive, more rounded andsofter.
  2. Females use a greater variety of intonation patterns, and have more rising pitch tones.
  3. Women use more evaluative adjectives, e.g. wonderful, brilliant.
  4. Women are less direct in conversation than men using words such as "Well, maybe, perhaps.^
  5. Women have different topics of conversation, e.g. men, politics, sport. women, people, clothing.
  6. Women interrupt less than men in conversation.
  7. Women are more verbose than men.
  8. Women are better listeners.
  9. Women talk more slowly than men, and elongate vowel sounds.
  10. The vocabulary women use is characterised by more words implying feelings and psychological state.
  11. When shopping make sure the assistant is looking at you before you speak.

Female Non-verbal Behaviour.

  1. Women use more eye contact than men.
  2. They nod and touch their hair and clothing more than men.
  3. Women smile more than men.
  4. Women use more gestures than men.
  5. Women walk with small strides, swing their hips and tuck their elbows in.
  6. Women cross their legs more than men.


All the above points are necessary to achieve a realistic voice. The introduction of female hormones has no effect on the male voice.

Success is unlikely to be achieved if you are not living full time in your preferred role. Important attributes are self-confidence and to be satisfied in the way you perceive your voice – people's perceptions differ, and you must be satisfied in the way you produce your voice.

Above all, you must be totally committed to achieving a feminine voice.


Citation:Clark, S., (2000),Voice Therapy for Male to Female Transsexuals, GENDYS 2k, The Sixth International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester England.

Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 11.02.11