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Your voice is crucial to how you see yourself and how others may see you. How people perceive your voice can affect how you’re gendered. Voice masculinization is one way to change this aspect.

Usually, deeper voices in cis-hetero normative society are associated with men, and higher voices are associated with women.

But men can also have higher voices, and women can have lower voices. There’s also a discussion to be had on what a “neutral” voice would sound like.

How people perceive your voice can affect whether they gender you correctly. For transgender and nonbinary people, misgendering is a common source of gender dysphoria.

Voice masculinization is a way to change aspects like pitch, resonance, registration, prosody, articulation, musicality, interpretation, characterization, and gesticulation to influence listeners to perceive a more masculine, though not necessarily or exclusively “male,” voice.

Of course, anyone of any gender can use voice masculinization for any purpose, including voice acting and cosplay.

For transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary people with gender dysphoria, vocal masculinization may be something you intensely desire to be seen as your correct gender.

If you’re uncomfortable with your voice but cannot place the discomfort, are unsure whether you have dysphoria, or have questions about your gender, consider reaching out to a gender therapist to talk through your feelings.

You may be able to deepen your voice slightly by practicing at-home vocal exercises.

Learning to breathe and speak from your diaphragm can help strengthen your voice and stretch your vocal cords, keeping your voice.

Check out these online resources:

Yes, testosterone hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help with voice masculinization.

Testosterone can elongate and thicken your vocal cords — similar to what happens during puberty for people assigned male at birth — when used for an extended period of time.

Researchers in a small 2017 study followed seven transgender men starting testosterone for the first time over the course of 1 year.

All seven participants experienced significant voice deepening within the first 6 months. Four of the seven participants continued to see a reduction in frequency after 6 months.

A meta-analytic review published in 2018 found that, although testosterone can make a difference, it may not lower the voice as much as is desired.

If you’re not interested in testosterone or want further changes to your voice, working with a vocal coach or speech instructor can be beneficial.

A professional linguist can teach you how to form your words with your mouth and project through your posture to sound masculine.

It’s important to find a coach who has experience working with gender-diverse clients and affirms your identity. You may be able to connect with a coach online or in person in your community.

To get started, Google search “voice masculinization coach near me” plus ”[your city and state].”

If voice training and HRT haven’t given you the results you’re looking for, you can consult a vocal surgeon about voice masculinization surgery. They can assess your individual risk for complications and discuss your options.

Voice masculinization surgery typically involves thyroplasty. During this procedure, a surgeon removes a strip of cartilage from your voice box (larynx). This loosens the vocal cords, subsequently lowering your pitch.

Thyroplasty is an outpatient procedure. You’ll likely be discharged from the hospital the same day or the following morning.

Follow-up appointments with a speech-language therapist will help you make the most of your surgery, protect your vocal health, and learn to use your changed voice.

There are two main things to consider: how long you want your voice to be perceived as deeper or masculine and whether you’re interested in HRT.

If you want a temporary or short-term change, practicing vocal exercises on your own may be best. If you have the means, working with a speech therapist can also be beneficial.

If you want a permanent change, consult a healthcare professional about HRT and voice masculinization surgery. They can help you determine whether to start with HRT or proceed with surgery.

If you want to learn more about self-guided and professional voice training, you can check out the following books in written or audio form:

If you have a smartphone, there are free apps you can download, like:

You might look into the following online video lessons and in-person classes:

Soren Hodshire (he/him/his) is a queer trans writer based in Chicago, Illinois. After getting his Bachelor of Arts in cultural studies and minoring in women, gender, and sexuality studies, Soren has been organizing, writing, fundraising, and facilitating for queer and trans organizations. He’s deeply committed to community building and solidarity across marginalized groups. When Soren isn’t writing or watching video essays, you’ll find him listening to a podcast. You can follow him on Twitter (as long as it still exists) and Instagram.