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specialist helps transgender people with key part of transition — their voices

dailycamera.com - Aimee Heckel Jul 19 2015

"The biggest thing transgender people feel is they want to be themselves, and part of that is sounding like themselves," ... "When they feel good about how they look and stop at a coffee shop and order their morning coffee and the barista says, 'Sir,' it's a stab in their gut."

At age 24, Nicole Johenning found her voice.

It has required her to train for about five minutes, five times a day. Every day for three months. And even so, she still has a ways to go. This process typically takes six months to a year, depending on the person. Commitment plays into it, but so does anatomy and medical conditions such as acid reflux.

Johenning is committed. If all goes as planned, the male-to-female transgender woman from Erie hopes to have her final surgery next summer. When that time comes, she says she wants to be ready.

Until then, she is training her voice.

One of the highest hurdles in gender transition is your voice, says Kathe Perez, of Louisville, a speech pathologist. She specializes in training transgender voices.

"The biggest thing transgender people feel is they want to be themselves, and part of that is sounding like themselves," she says. "When they feel good about how they look and stop at a coffee shop and order their morning coffee and the barista says, 'Sir,' it's a stab in their gut."

Perez is the co-creator (with Annika Kappenstein) of an interactive iPhone app called Eva (Exceptional Voice App) that coaches both transgender men and women, using an audio analyzer and self-guided and video-based lessons to train nine different components of speech.
A screenshot of the Eva MtF iPhone app for transgender women.
A screenshot of the Eva MtF iPhone app for transgender women. (Courtesy image)

Eva MtF is for trans women and Eva FtM is for trans men.

 

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