Letter to the Editor | Individual and group voice therapy available to transgender students

By Melanie Moore

As of 2018, the United States has begun to treat 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 to 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 the voice while speaking) and resonance (the “booming” quality) of the voice to match the gender of the individual. For example, a trans woman (assigned male at birth) would train her voice to raise the pitch, to use more intonation and to reduce the booming quality of her voice.

Having a gender-congruent voice is critical for trans men and trans women in regard to both their mental health and physical safety.

In January of this year, the Department of Speech and Hearing Science at the University 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.

Melanie is a senior in Social Work.

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