A public college in California is offering a voice clinic to students who identify as transgender in order to help them sound more like their preferred "gender identity."
According to Campus Reform, the clinic is at San Francisco State University and offers speech therapy to help transgender and nonbinary participants "find their voice":
Assistant Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Anusha Sundarrajan is spearheading the initiative, which teaches techniques used for voice modification including exercises such as humming through a straw, according to the university.
Sundarrajan believes it's important that trans and nonbinary people hoping to change their voice use formal techniques. Without it, she says some may end up harming their vocal cords, leading to even greater problems. Instead, Sundarrajan stresses the clinic teaches participants healthy practices to help in attaining their new voice.
"With our clinic, we provide a nonjudgmental space where our participants can find a voice that defines who they are," Sundarrajan said in a late January university news release. "We want to create a safe and open environment for all our participants."
The release said "Sundarrajan and a team of graduate student clinicians meet with participants weekly to explore natural techniques of voice modification. Each session kicks off with group warm-up exercises — like humming through a straw to strengthen the vocal cords — followed by one-on-one time between the clinicians and participants under the supervision of Sundarrajan."
Some of the other techniques clinic participants use, according to the university, are "techniques common in the field of speech-language pathology" such as "Conversation Training Therapy," an example that "involves switching between their current and target voice, a practice that builds their confidence in speaking with their target voice in everyday settings."
As a success story for the clinic's efforts, the university points to Lola Chase, a recent graduate who identifies as "transmasculine" — i.e., a biological female who "identifies on the male side of the gender spectrum."
"Prior to joining the clinic, I didn't know how to support my voice in a way that both aligns with my gender identity and is healthy," Chase said. "I learned a lot from the clinic in that sense."
The recent graduate added, "This type of clinic reassures queer people that we have a place on campus and that we are being seen and heard."
The university adds that the clinics services are open to the general public as well as "members of the campus community," but that priority is given to enrolled students.