Authors: Gelfer MP, Van Dong BR
Title: A Preliminary Study on the Use of Vocal Function Exercises to Improve Voice in Male-to-Female Transgender Clients
Source: Journal Of Voice 2013 27(3): 321-334
Year: 2013
Research Design: Case Series

Objectives: This study explores the outcomes of symptomatic voice treatment plus Stemple's vocal function exercises (VFEs) for a group of male-to-female (MTF) transgender (TG) clients seeking voice feminization. Both acoustic and perceptual outcomes were assessed, in addition to the clients' attitudes toward VFE. Design: Prospective treatment study. Method Three MTF TG clients plus three control female speakers and three control male speakers served as subjects. All provided a variety of speech samples. The TG clients underwent symptomatic voice therapy for 6 weeks, while simultaneously performing the VFE protocol. At the end of therapy, the TG clients provided posttreatment voice samples. All voice samples were analyzed for speaking fundamental frequency (SFF), SFF upper and lower limits, and the first three formants of /i/. A CD of pre- and posttreatment voice samples plus the control voices was presented to listeners for gender judgments and masculinity and femininity ratings. Results: For acoustic measures, the TG subjects appeared more similar to the male control speakers in the pretest, and more similar to the female controls in the posttest. Perceptually, listeners continued to identify the TG subjects as male following therapy, although they were rated as significantly less masculine and more feminine. TG subjects were generally positive about the addition of VFE to their therapy experience. Conclusions: The addition of VFE did not appear to improve posttreatment outcomes compared with previous literature. It was suggested that both number of sessions and experience living full-time as a woman might be important variables in predicting progress in therapy.

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