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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Singing Post-Transition

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Author Topic: Singing Post-Transition
feefiefofemme
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I've got a question, which is in my case purely curiosity/speculation, but it's been eating at me for a while now.

So... Let's say you're a transgendered singer (either FTM or MTF). After hormone therapy, would your singing voice ascend or decend to the point where it would be like someone's who was biologically female or male? Like, if you were a soprano, could hormone therapy turn you into a tenor? Or, if you were a bass, could you become an alto? Or does it depend on the person?

I realize this is a flawed question, now that I think about it, because everyone's voice is different. Goodness knows I've met my fair share of female tenors (there are three just in my choir, actually), and there are men out there that have retained a strong high voice even after their voice has changed. But, well, I found myself contemplating this on the walk home from school the other day (lord only knows why), and I just had to ask.

I don't know. I guess, from a singer's perspective, it seems to me like it would be really hard if you were a female with a very high voice (like mine), but then transitioned to a male and retained that high soprano. Or the other way round, obviously. People would think it a little strange. I know you can train yourself to talk somewhat lower or higher, depending, but singing is different, and if it were something you were really passionately involved in... If you were in the alto-tenor range, I suppose it wouldn't be bad, but if you were a soprano or a bass or baritone that would be more difficult.

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orca
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I don't know anything about singing, but what about the boys choir whose singers all have high voices? People love them for their high voices, so I'd think that if a woman with a high singing voice got a sex change and retained that high singing voice then they would be much sought after. Then again, I have a voice like a cat fight in an alley, so I'm no judge.

I did find this site where people were discussing it in regards to a singer named Zoe. (I have no idea who that is. Do you?)
They said that testosterone makes the vocal chords longer, causing a deeper voice, and once they are longer only surgery will shorten them. So, a FTM transgender will have their voice permanently changed by hormones. A MTF transgender won't be able to have their vocal chords changed by hormones and will need surgery or vocal training.

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feefiefofemme
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Well, yes. But that's a boys' choir. You know, with little boys whose voices haven't changed yet. Adult men are usually not boy sopranos. [Big Grin]

What you're saying about testosterone and lengthening the vocal chords makes sense. I can see how that would work. However, I was unaware that you could even do surgery on the vocal chords (beyond just taking them out or something) to make them shorter. I know I wouldn't want anyone coming anywhere near my chords with a scalpel or whatnot.

[ 05-01-2007, 11:39 PM: Message edited by: BiGoddess ]

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orca
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Hehe. Well I did say I know nothing about singing. Wish I did though. I'd love to sing arias and make people weep, but that's another life.

As for the surgery, according to that website I looked at it is kind of risky and doesn't always work. I remember seeing it done on an older woman that had been a smoker. She just got plastic surgery to look younger and decided she wanted to sound younger too. It worked for her, but I'd be worried about what the scar tissue might do.

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Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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quote:
Well, yes. But that's a boys' choir. You know, with little boys whose voices haven't changed yet. Adult men are usually not boy sopranos
So true. [Smile] And yet, there are SO many classical pieces in which parts written for male/boy characters were written for sopranos and mezzos to do in drag, so there are plenty of opportunities in opera for FTMs to be able to both sing those parts and actually play them gender-appropriate, which is pretty darn cool.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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ErinK
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Anecdotally, I have a friend who is doing FTM hormone therapy, and he has been talking about how his voice is slowly changing. He wants to get some recordings made of him singing now while his range is mostly close to where it was when he was a soprano, and then later when his voice has settled down.
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