Tuesday, August 20, 2019

I Don’t Know About This…

...I think in some ways I do but I think that I use pretty much the voices, speech patterns, mannerisms, and behavior when I speak with one exception, when I am teaching.
The Exhausting Work of LGBTQ Code-Switching
Queer, trans, and non-binary people have to do the extra work of changing how they speak, act and express themselves in everyday spaces.
By  Madeleine Holden
August 12, 2019

Court, a 25-year-old sales engineer based in Portland who previously identified as a lesbian, told me how their voice changed when they came out as non-binary (all sources in this story have had their last names omitted for privacy and safety). “I would attempt to “masculinize” my voice before—that sort of stable, droning mutter,” they said. “It was only after I realized I was genderfluid—neither a man nor a woman—that I became more comfortable slipping in and out of the more feminized voice I’d been so afraid of.” Court explained that this involves more animated, energetic pitch changes and use of the “gay lisp.” “I still switch back to my more masculine timbre in professional spaces and new environments,” they continued, “since I fear inevitably getting clocked as she/her.”
Code switching is a sociolinguistic concept that once simply described the practice of alternating between multiple languages or varieties of language in conversation, but which is now used in discussions about how members of marginalized communities adjust their voices, speech patterns, mannerisms, and behavior to blend in across various social settings. Often associated with racial and ethnic minorities—think of, say, a Black woman who uses AAVE around her Black friends but switches to "standard" English around her white co-workers—“code switching” is also increasingly used to describe the way in which LGBTQ people adjust their presentation in spaces of varying tolerance (gay clubs versus the office, say). For trans people, especially precarious Black trans women, the stakes are particularly high: Code switching is literally a matter of life or death.

There can be many components to a code-switch, but to take voice as an example, gender presentation is more than just pitch, i.e., men having deeper voices than women. As Vivian Wang reported in a fascinating 2016 piece for The Awl, it also includes resonance (how full a voice sounds), cadence (men often speak in a staccato, as opposed to fluid, style), volume (men are louder), and vocabulary (women have a greater tendency, for example, to end sentences with “tag words” like “right?”). Non-vocal gestures during speech are important, too: Women make more eye contact during conversation, for instance, and also use more hand movements. “For many transgender people,” Wang noted, “sounding like their true gender is just as crucial to the transition process — and at times, just as complicated — as looking the part.” This means, of course, that people like Aubrey must constantly calibrate whether to sound “like a guy” or “like a woman” depending on whether they’re in a tolerant space in which they’re “out” as trans.
For me I know that my voice and mannerisms are different when I am lecturing, I project my voice more and use gestures more. But in general I think I am pretty consistent in my presentation. But I know of a couple of trans people who went to voice therapy and they say it helped them.

There was an article a couple years ago about UConn speech therapy workshop…
In A Word: Transgender Transition Through Speech
By Sheila Foran & Bret Eckhardt
June 29, 2015

Communication happens in a gesture. A laugh. A choice of phrasing. Things that most of us never think about. But for individuals transitioning from one gender to another, speaking and acting in a way that supports their new identity can seem like a daunting challenge.

That’s where the speech-language pathologists at the University of Connecticut’s Speech and Hearing Clinic enter the picture.

“To me, speech is the thing that makes or breaks you in terms of whether you are seen as being feminine or not,” says Sylvia Wojcik, a client at the clinic for the past 18 months. “The voice is the finishing aspect of transition.”
For me, I don’t see a need, I like to say if you can’t tell I’m trans then you need glasses and hearing aids. The way I look at it all my life I pretended to be male and I am finished pretending… this is my voice and this is who I am. 

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