I’ll be focusing on gender and voice and many other music nerd things in grad school, but I had to make an initial statement on this area that has affected several people I care about, including me.
We tell cis boys and anyone else whose voice has been affected by testosterone dominant changes that their voice is broken.
Some other unhelpful language that I’ve heard is “vocal damage,” “voice cracks,” “the awkward phase,” “the bad years,” etc. This current overarching narrative, regardless of gender, has to go.
I want to acknowledge that some transfeminine people have their own relationship with this language, but I won’t speak over them on this topic.
For cis boys, who eventually become cis men, as long as their voices can soar back into the high belt, they once again receive praise. Otherwise, they are lackluster but less frowned upon than their trans counterparts. Many boys and men stop singing before they reach that point because they get discouraged at a crucial turning point in their lives.
Trans men/transmasculine people rarely get mentioned, period. We certainly rarely get mentioned as singers. Still, when we are, we receive criticism for taking testosterone and are seen as less valuable than we were with higher voices.
Testosterone does not cause vocal damage. Testosterone is not poison. And just because some of us “choose” to change our voices doesn’t make that a bad thing.
If your voice changes, which all voices do, go with it. Sometimes it’s a choice, and sometimes it’s not; it’s all an opportunity to grow.
I reframe my journey as a process of healing, learning, and growing up. Try reframing a voice change in a growth mindset rather than setting up another group of people to internalize shame about their voices, their bodies, and themselves.