At the time of writing this, tomorrow (if things all go to plan) will be the day the first episode of the Trans Culture Club goes up. It’s something that I’m extremely excited about, and being part of it has been a lot of fun during recent months. However, the more prominent feeling is definitely one of nervousness. This will be the first time I’m on a podcast, but more notably the first time I’m getting my voice out there. Literally.
Now, the issues and complications about voice aren’t anything new to transgender people. It might not be the main source of dysphoria, but it’s definitely something I see mentioned as the hardest part of transitioning very often. For me though, my voice is something that I’ve been struggling with for my entire life.
Take your mind back to the late 90s. You were probably watching Pokemon on TV knowing the kind of people who usually read my posts! Back then I was only a small child, my brain still being in the development phase. Everything was going fine, but there was one issue. I wasn’t speaking, at all. It wasn’t for a lack of my parents trying to help me learn, I can imagine it was something that was a big concern to them at the time.
Eventually I was taken to a doctor about it, and was referred to a specialist in child speech development. It all went well, my speaking is fine and I haven’t had any technical problems with speaking since. However, there were many… unforeseen problems. The way I speak was mainly developed through these appointments, so naturally I learned to speak within a very formal manner and environment. Much of what I say can come across as quite dry and monotone, which kind of clashes with my very loose and upbeat personality. The bigger problem here didn’t occur until I reached school age.
Talking with other kids was hard. Really, really hard. I was quite shy as a child to begin with, but engaging with and interacting with the people around me was made a lot more difficult thanks to my voice. The formalities of how I talk made me sound like an outsider to many of the other children, so I was either shut off completely or just ignored because I sounded “boring”. Many of them also went to the same primary school as me, so up until the age of 11 I had to deal with the fact that I was seen the way I was. It was a lonely time, I sat by myself for a lot of it.
These experiences of school have greatly shaped how I communicate. I feel that speaking is a inherently flawed form of communication for me. I can speak on technical level, but I can only speak in one way as of now. It’s a way that means a lot of my thoughts get lost within it. Holding a conversation or speaking for long periods of time is extremely difficult for me, and I believe that part of that fact is because I didn’t really have much of a reason to learn to talk with others when I was young.
There is a plus side to this though. It was through my loneliness that I studied a lot about English and writing. My writing skills is probably the thing I’m most confident in, for better or for worse. It’s where I can most freely express myself, slowly refine and perfect my thoughts until they come out just the way I had envisioned it. Written communication is often criticised for the lack of tone, but with the issues I’ve had with speaking that was only a plus for me. I was set free from the shackles holding me back from spoken communication.
Fast forward to the modern day. You’re probably watching seasonal anime on the internet knowing the kind of people who usually read my posts! Whilst I don’t have a deep hatred for spoken communication like I had back then, I do still vastly prefer writing. Even in my twenties, I still feel like spoken communication is something I need to improve on a lot.
There’s also a new element that wasn’t present back then. I’m non-binary, but since I was assigned male at birth it meant that I saw a male specialist when taking those speaking appointments. Because of this, my voice can get extremely deep and masculine on top of the previously mentioned traits. It’s probably my biggest source of gender dysphoria, the way society treats the spoken word is to hear a voice and categorise whether the speaker is male or female because of it. It’s a very rigid and arbitrary system that means that I’m going to be gendered as male because of my voice, no matter what. There’s no such thing as a genderless voice because of this, and I really wish there was because I would grab onto it within a heartbeat.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be content with my voice or spoken communication. As I mentioned, it’s still something I want to work and improve on. Maybe getting my voice out there on a podcast will be the stepping stone I need to start that process, I’m certainly hoping so.
I want my voice to be heard, and I’ll do my best not to stay silent.
Thanks for listening.