Three excellent questions comprise this post. First up is a two-parter about feminizing my voice. Then, a person wonders if my transitioning when I did might not have been influenced by people like Caitlyn Jenner. Finally, a question about sex reassignment surgery and whether it constitutes bodily mutilation.
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Q: Is there a medicine or surgical procedure that would change your voice? Is it possible to get so much into the habit of speaking in what sounds like a female voice that it will become normal?
A: There is no medicine for a trans woman’s voice to change. Trans men often enjoy deepened voices from testosterone, but the estrogen does not have a feminizing affect.
A surgical procedure is available which, a plastic surgeon told me, has been greatly improved at tightening the vocal cords to raise the pitch. I know of no one whose had the procedure in recent years, and only know of one person who had it done several years ago, and that poor woman ended up with a worse voice than before, very gravely. I would rather work on doing this myself, and it definitely is doable with practice.
As to your second question, this is in fact, what happens. I have watched videos of trans women who have changed their voices, and to show what they used to sound like even struggle a bit to remember it and speak in their former male voice so we can hear the dramatic change. A trans woman, who has been at our group meetings, has perfected a very nice, feminine voice, and she did the same for us in group, reverting to her male voice for a moment so we could hear the change and saying, yes, the newer voice became normal, with her having to have no thought about it coming out of her mouth all the time.
You asked me about my voice after I told you that I just began working on changing mine. It’s going better this time than the many times before that I tried, which went so poorly that I gave in quickly. Stay tuned for more feminine sounding updates!
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Q: Wasn’t it convenient that your gender dysphoria got so bad when it did, just as famous people, like Bruce Jenner, came out, and stories about transgender people and integrating them into society (as with bathrooms) went from being nowhere to everywhere? Are you sure that you were not influenced by these things so that you transitioned?
A: I am so sure about this that I will say it this way: In no way did I ever think, “Whew, it’s a lot easier to transition now than a few years ago, so I think I’ll go for it.”
Transitioning never was a thought for my entire life. It only entered the picture when my condition exploded in January, 2013. Then, suicidal thoughts entered. After awhile, I truly thought I was going to go insane. Ultimately, I found two options, either transition, or be so heavily medicated, to quell the noise in my brain, that I would be barely lucid.
In 2013—a year before Jenner came out—my therapist did in fact suggest that my transitioning was timely in that it coincided with transgender’s burgeoning presence in the public eye, and that, should I transition, I would be a good speaker to educate regarding it. I am, in fact, a bit thankful it did not happen a few years sooner, for how much harder it might have been to go public at that time, and to go into the world as a female.
So, was it convenient? I won’t argue the point. Did outside events impact internal feelings and decisions? Not a bit.
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Q: When you talk about having sex reassignment surgery, I wonder: How you can consider mutilating yourself like that?
A: Very early in this process, late in 2013, as I was telling brother pastors why I was retiring, one of them asked me this. A couple of months later, the second time I talked with him, he brought it up again. The second time, I answered him this way, calm but a bit perturbed: “I am sad that you have brought this up again, when you know how I feel about it. If I have surgery on my genitals, I will not be mutilating them. I will be correcting them so that they suit me.”
What does it mean to mutilate something? Dictionary.com defines “mutilate” as:
1. To injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts.
2. To deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.
It is true that my penis will be removed. If this were all that was to happen, I could not disagree with the idea of my having myself mutilated. Since this is not the case, since my penis and scrotum are going to be used to create female genitalia, with my urethra resectioned so that it continues to work, and the nerves to my genitals connected so that I experience appropriate sensitivity, I cannot agree with it being mutilation.
I don’t want this to sound flip or humorous, but, truly, my genitals will be undergoing a remodeling. As I told that pastor, they will be corrected so that they suit me.
Not all transgender folks undergo surgery of any kind. In some cases, it simply is cost prohibitive. In many cases, they do not feel the need. I feel the need.
It’s the most natural thing to desire healing, and the best body we can have. I desire healing, and the best body I can have.
So many things about my transitioning have been offensive to a lot of people. I have not liked any of that, never wanting to offend a single person. This is why I have answered questions and written essays on everything I can imagine might be helpful.
I hope this, too, is helpful. If a person cannot grasp the deep desires I have to conform my body and life to that of a female, hopefully there are important things in that person’s life to which he might compare—say, losing one’s hair because of chemotherapy—and be able to say, “I know how important it was for me to get healthy and even to have my hair back,” and, perhaps, instead of being offended at me, experience empathy, and even compassion.