Better to remain silent and be thought a
fool man than to speak out and remove all doubt.
— Abraham Lincoln
When I let it, my voice cascades. It dances and twinkles, swoops and soars, echoes the world around me, is playful and compelling. People have described it as a kind of radio play, full of inflection and interest, carrying information wrapped in wit, humor and compassion.
I know that the content of my voice is the content of a woman.
I just don’t trust that the tones involved are also heard as feminine. My body went though puberty as a male, and that truth is written all over it.
Because of that, I do what so many transwomen do with their voice, putting it into a tight corset to try and constrain it down to the best I can do. I try to stay breathy, smiling, in the upper registers with good resonance and appropriate mommy-ese kind of sing song, and if that seems hard, I just don’t speak at all.
I’m never going to be the cutest, youngest, slightest woman in the room, I know that. Without full use of my voice, though, the most attractive and compelling parts of me are concealed rather than revealed, leaving me a huge silent lump in the corner.
“Is there any doubt that if I was born female, I would have been a mouthy broad?” I once asked a crossdresser. As much as they imagined women to be dainty and reserved, they immediately understood the kind of woman I am, a hearty gal with a big voice.
Like every other part of my trans journey, though, I have had to struggle through invoking on my own. When people do mirror me, I get back much more of their assumptions, beliefs and fear than I get encouragement and helpful comments. They are habituated to their own view of gender, so they want to keep the walls up, keep the compartments clear, which just puts up barriers against my possibility.
The amount of myself I reveal and the amount I conceal is always a complex formula. I want to look pretty, but I trying to do that by wearing a thick mask ends up making me look more fake. Corsets can be marvellous, but if you cannot walk, move or breathe in them, they rob you of human connection rather than enhance it.
I resist using my voice in the world, instead freeze drying it and offering it in text form. This leads to people not getting the humanity laced through my words, missing all the cues of tone, texture and nuance that are contained in the colours of a human voice, of my human voice.
Dreaming of having a perfect voice is a block to actually using the voice that I do have, and not using my voice is means I am not using the life force that I have been given.
We were given two ears and one mouth and should use them in that proportion. I have never used my voice just to broadcast my beliefs, rather I have used it as a form of interactive communication, tightly tied in with the feedback I am getting in any situation. I don’t preach, I teach, working very hard to meet people where they are.
I do have something to say, though, something that could use more warmth and emphasis than is available in long winded blog posts. If I believe that people will understand, respond and connect with me, I can open up my expression, allowing the playfulness and depth of emotion to be revealed in the breath of my voice.
Being too concerned about connecting with the audience can mean that you don’t open them up to what you have to offer, your own unique style and content. Sometimes we just have to be boldly, loudly ourselves and let the attraction come where it may. Cute, well, it’s usually about abandon and sparkle, not about scrupulously hiding the bits of you that you think people will find erratic and jarring.
I resist speaking when I am not at all clear that I have something to add. That’s the way I learned to look smart, being quite confident of the few bits I choose to add to any conversation. Smalltalk has never been for me.
It may be time, though, to use my voice with more profligacy, to let loose and let fly, though ShamanGal just told me that she now gets why her early suggestions about me just being a star were naive. My offerings aren’t simple, easily digestible notes, though being lightened with a chiming voice can’t hurt.
I had the joy of hearing a transwoman fall for her own voice, listening to what she usually says in private and realizing that she has something beautiful to share with a world she usually stays very quiet in. I am thrilled to hear her share because she has something very different and very powerful to offer, a transcendent, queer view which takes the words of Catholic thinkers and illuminates the Gnostic that threads through lives. Amazing.
It is hard to get a queer voice mirrored in an affirming, encouraging way. We open our mouths and things change in front of us, often, though, in a repulsed, negative way.
Yet it is only by opening our mouths that what we hold inside becomes present in the world, that people can hear, value and connect with what we share.
I am a mouthy broad. People who take the time and the effort to read what I have shared know that.
Maybe it is time, though, to share that voice with a world that might just need to hear what I have to say in a human, vocal way.