Voice issues for male-to-female transsexuals represent a notable challenge for both those undergoing gender reassignment surgery and the speech pathologists that help them to make this transition. A review of the scant literature that is available on voice therapy for transsexuals demonstrates that lessening pharyngeal tension to help achieve optimal pitch is the most widely used technique to assist individuals after gender reassignment surgery. Utilizing this as a basis for investigation, this research considers the methods used by speech pathologists to help male-to-female transsexuals achieve optimal pitch.
Originators of the Technique(s)
The use of lessening pharyngeal tension to help achieve optimal pitch to help male-to-female transsexuals sound more feminine was first reported in the literature by Kalra (1976). In this investigation, the results of voice therapy given to a 17-year-old male that had undergone gender reassignment surgery to become a female are reported.
[...] When placed in this context, it becomes evident that research on the use of voice therapy for the transgender clients needs to be expanded if best practices for male-to-female transsexuals are to be delineated. At the present time, the disordered and incomplete state of the research on this topic makes it difficult for professionals to accurately discern the particular methods that should be used to improve outcomes for male-to- female transsexuals. In addition to conducting more research on this topic, it is evident that a broad synthesis of the information that is currently available is also warranted. [...]
[...] While the specific research that has been conducted on the techniques used by does not provide a comprehensive or definitive understanding of the specific therapies that are used to improve voice quality for transsexuals, an extensive search of programs offered by speech therapists who work with transsexual clients provides a more concise picture of the voice therapies that are available. For instance, Davies (2006) currently provides a comprehensive voice program for transsexuals living in Canada. Her program, which is called Changing Keys, is sponsored by the Transgender Health Program of British Columbia provides an evaluation for the client, a seven week course of speech and voice therapy, a home tutorial program and a follow-up program for reevaluation. [...]
[...] seeking gender reassignment often utilize a speech pathologist to help them alter their “speech in the direction of the desired (p. 428). These authors go on to note that, the majority of cases the intervention of the speech pathologist boils down to providing voice therapy to male-to- female transsexuals with the main focus on raising the client's speaking fundamental frequency” (p. 428-9). Van Borsel, De Cuypere, and Rubens further note that speech therapy is not typically used in female-to-male transsexuals as prevailing opinion is apparently that in female-to- male transsexuals the desired voice change (i.e. [...]
[...] Efficacy/Effectiveness Data .A critical review of what has been written about the use of pharyngeal tension to help achieve optimal pitch demonstrates that while this technique has proven to be effective in some investigations, it is not always the best or only technique that can be utilized to improve the femininity of the voice in male-to-female transsexuals. As noted above, Kalra (1976) reported notable success in the case of a male-to-female transsexual when using this specific technique. Kalra reports that the speech pathologist was able to help the subject achieve a feminine sounding voice. [...]
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