by: Allison Mitchell
For many, finding their voice is seeking the courage to stand up and be heard. To be able to put their two cents on issues in society that they hold near and dear to their heart. For others, it is so much more. For me it was not only this but also a quest to be heard — in a voice matching the way I present myself to society.
This last November, even before coming out to myself and to my family, I’ll readily admit that I liked really “girly” music, and that music helped me express what I was still trying to get out. I would get in my car for a drive, and my playlist would bounce back and forth between everything from Lamb of God to Katy Perry, or Slayer to Aqua. (What can I say? I have a diverse interest in music.) Music has always been one of my favorite pastimes, and even back then, when I was just singing along to all my favorite singers, I was searching for something.
After coming out, I started doing research on how to change my voice. Many people suggested trying to emulate different singers, and so I did just that for several months. I could never hear myself over the music though, and I preferred it that way. I was too afraid to hear what I actually sounded like, also because I have never liked the way my male voice sounds. To me my voice is absolute auditory anguish.
I went on like this until just the other week. I happened to be in a chat room with a bunch of other trans* friends of mine, and we had started to discuss the topic of voice. I mentioned my anxiety associated with hearing my voice, and someone made a very good point. The only thing holding me back was me. If I didn’t “man up” and get over my anxiety, I would be doomed to sound male forever.
So, while they went on with their discussion I shut off the microphone on my camera, opened up the voice memo app on my phone and reached as high as I could. It sounded awkward as it came out of my mouth. As I pressed play I was amazed. It sounded nothing like me, but at the same time, I knew this was how it was supposed to be. I hit a low and little bit husky voice. While I was trying for higher, I’ve always liked women with a slightly husky voice, and I stopped there.
I immediately got the chat room’s attention and played it for them (I wanted to just speak directly but I got stage fright). Everyone was ecstatic, and some a little jealous as this was my first serious attempt. I guess all the practice singing paid off in the end.
I’m still working on getting through my performance anxiety so I can speak in front of people, but now I know where to shoot for. I know what I’m trying to find.
Allison Mitchell is transgender, currently serving in the armed forces and living part time as a woman. Mostly just living life day to day and trying to sort through everything that’s thrown her way. Got any trans* questions or just want to simply chat? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.