Transgender voice therapy offered

Transgender voice therapy offered

As of 2018, the United States has begun to recognize mental health as of equal importance to physical health. On campus, mental health facilities like the Counseling Center or McKinley's Mental Health Unit are readily available to students and their availability is stressed constantly.

What we fail to consider are the population-specific mental health problems that occur on our campus that can be easily targeted and addressed. For our transgender students, a common mental health issue is gender dysphoria, or a fundamental unease with the biological sex one is born with, which results in anxiety, depression, restlessness, and other symptoms.

In order to reduce this dysphoria and gain acceptance as their gender, transgender individuals may seek out voice therapy to alter how their voice sounds.

The main goal of voice therapy is to train one's pitch, intonation (rise and fall of voice while speaking) and resonance (the "booming" quality) of the voice to match the gender of the individual.

For example, a transwoman (assigned male at birth) would train her voice to raise the pitch, use more intonation and reduce the booming quality of the voice. Having a gender-congruent voice is critical for transmen and transwomen in regards to both their mental health and physical safety.

In January of this year, the Speech and Hearing Sciences Department of the University of Illinois added individual and group voice therapy to their offered services through the advocacy of graduate student Samantha Xu and the LGBT Resource Center.

This service is now available to transgender individuals on campus.