deal with the devil

I like music as much as the next guy, maybe even a little bit more.  I have often wished I had more musical talent.  And truthfully, I’m not sure whether I *have* the talent or not.  It’s more that I’m too tightly wound and controlled (as well as controlling, self critical, insecure… ) to be able to let go and let music move me in the way that it needs to in order to let creativity and talent flow.  I know that.  My dad had that innate capacity to engage music.  And he wasn’t self-conscious or rigid like I am.  He could just pick up any instrument nearby and just start jamming, his voice like cool water harmony gliding through and suffusing the Universe.  It was balm for the soul to listen to him.  I did inherit my dad’s ability to carry a tune and I have his ear for music (which is a blessing and a curse as I can hear all too clearly when someone is singing off key even slightly).  I’ve always been shy of my own voice.  Partly because I can hear every missed note and every flat or sharp, and partly because I have always been a soprano.  I’ve never liked the girly high-pitch that comes out of my mouth.  The funny thing is that my dad had a much higher singing voice (within the *girly* range) than speaking voice and he wasn’t at all self-conscious about it.  And he sounded fantastic and not one bit incongruent with the man he was.  At any rate, I’ve been told my voice sounds fine to others.  Nothing to write home about.  I’m no next contestant on The Voice.  But my ability to carry a tune and the relative pleasant nature of my vocal tone has always been imperfectly lovely.

Singing is actually a fairly significant part of my job.  Lucky for me the people listening to me sing at work all suffer some degree of presbycusis (hearing loss associated with age).  Not to mention dementia.  In other words, I sound great to them 🙂  After 20 years I’m no longer shy or embarrassed about singing in front of them.  They’re my peeps.  In addition to those two other things.  And mainly I am singing with my soul and not only my voice.  I’m leading religious services, singing spirituals and chanting age-old hallowed words.  I may be singing, but my heart is praying and I believe that is what comes through.

I did enough research (an understatement) on taking testosterone and the effects it might, could or would have on me emotionally, spiritually and physically.  I knew my voice would change.  I knew the easy intonation and timbre that has always been my voice was going to transform and shift even as other parts of my being were doing the same thing.  I assumed the pitch of my voice would change.  But I wasn’t sure how else it would alter.  The conversation in my head went something like this: “I may lose my voice, my ability to sing.”  “I know.”  “Am I still willing to do this?”  “What about the other changes? The changes I want?”  “Are they more important than singing?”  “I think so. Yes.”  “Even if I lose the ability altogether?”  “Yes.”

So, armed with what I considered a modicum of acceptance, I starting taking T.  In the first month or so I don’t think there was any real or even imagined changes with my voice.  As time went on my voice did begin to change, as I documented here back in October, the very beginning infinitesimal changes.  In the last month or so, though, my voice has changed significantly.  Even I can hear it.  If I focus and push myself I can talk in a tone fairly close to my *regular* voice.  But it is taking effort to do that.  By the same token, if I concentrate, I can also make my voice sound lower and more in the *normal male range*.  If I do not put my mind to it and am just talking like a normal person, it now comes out stridulous and with that horrid helium quality.   Like it’s coming from somewhere between my nasal passages and my ears.  I experience my voice as heavier, lower, originating from deeper within me.  But I don’t seem to be accessing my voice from that place.  Which is why it’s coming out nasal.

To make a long story somewhat shorter and to cut to the chase, my singing voice seems gone completely.  It isn’t that my voice is simply lower or deeper.  My voice is now in a totally different key.  A key I’m not at all used to or even familiar with.  My voice is in a place I do not know and I have no idea how to access it wherever it is.  In a word, my singing voice is gone.  It’s surreal to have my heart, soul and mind swell with song and then open my mouth and have something completely foreign come out.  Surreal like bucket of ice water over the head.  The people listening (ie: the old folks) don’t seem to notice.  {see above explanations of why}  While the folks singing with me are giving me the gimlet eye in sidelong glances.

I have news for them, it’s just as jarring for me.  I’m used to feeling the music inside me and simply letting the tune come out.  I have never given singing more thought than that.  What have I done?!  Clearly I have always taken for granted this rather natural gift.  I guess I assumed that my ability to carry a tune would not change, that only my voice would change, the sound or the key, but not the ability to put notes one after the other.  Simple as falling off the proverbial log.  I assumed (obviously incorrectly) that my voice might start on a different note, but that I’d be able to naturally (magically) start on that given note and make melody from there like I always have been able to.  Like transposing music, as simple as adding a capo.  But it isn’t.  And I don’t know what to do.

placid waters on the horizon

The reality is that it is too early to actually do anything right now.  Because of the low level dose of testosterone I’m on and because it has been so short a time, I’m in store for many more changes.  My voice is likely to continue to change over time.  So no need to incite and inflame my over-active anxiety or self-flagellation just yet either.  I’ve done a bit of research – mostly on the internet and in trans-forums and trans-groups I’m in.  All is not lost.  Lots of trans-guys end up being able to sing when all is said and done.  It takes time and effort.  Some guys work with a voice coach who specializes in transgender voices and I know we have someone like that here in Boston because my primary care doc mentioned it to me before I started T.  I’m also engaging in some spiritual practices that foster tranquility, patience, understanding, and maybe ultimately harmony.



About halitentwo

i am. god is. we are. as soon as i write something about me i change, am different, evolving. i am trans. i am a parent. i am a partner. i am a human. i am attempting to live a well-lived life in the spaces in between, beyond definition, fluid, dynamic, omnifarious and always changing. hopefully growing.
This entry was posted in blessings, feelings, no man's land. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to deal with the devil

  1. Mrs Fever says:

    I don’t think I ever considered singing ability as part of the vocal change that accompanies a hormonal shift. I wonder if, eventually, your vocal chords will undergo the same transformation as is seen/heard in adolescent males throughout/post puberty. I remember my brother’s voice changing, around age 14, and he lost his singing ability during the hormone shift (he had a natural talent) but regained the ability – in a new register – once he was through the drop-deepening tone gauntlet.

    • halitentwo says:

      Oh hope-giver you! That would be wonderful. I’ll keep that in mind as I continue through the drop-deepening tone gauntlet (LOVE that description)! Thank you ❤

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