By Elessar Younglove
I recently spoke with a friend of mine experiencing dysphoria. My friend is kind and creative. She loves to read poetry. If I’m lucky, she loves to share it. But recently, she hasn’t felt like sharing anything.
“I can’t help but hear a manly voice when I talk,” she told me.
Transgender people, especially trans women, are often forced under a microscope. There is a pressure to be a woman “the right way.” This misconception is extremely hurtful to trans women. There is no “right” way to be a woman. Many trans women (and trans people in general) experience dysphoria, a feeling of distress towards the things that they don’t feel line up with their body. Dysphoria can be physical (that is to say, it can be distress caused by the discrepancy between one’s true gender identity and one’s physical characteristics), or it can be social (ie, distress when others perceive a trans person as something other than their true gender identity). In my friend’s case, she was suffering from what many people call “voice dysphoria.” Dysphoria is like struggling with your own measuring tape. You’re always jumping to meet a line that never seems to stay still. This is why it’s important to reach out when experiencing dysphoria. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to friends, family, etc, you can also talk to someone on the phone through translife.org at +1(877)-565-8860.
When I experience dysphoria, I try to remind myself that my body isn’t an object to be viewed by other people. My body can run and sing and play and skip and do so many amazing things that have nothing to do with how I look. I recommend doing something you love to distract yourself from dysphoria, like listening to music. I would especially recommend listening to women with deeper voices. Having role models you can relate to is especially important for trans people.
And of course, try to remember there is no right way to be a woman. Having a deep voice doesn’t betray your womanhood. Lots of women have deep voices! Here are some trans and cis women singers I would recommend listening to:
1) Cher - also known as “the goddess of pop” with a deep voice and lots of personality! Songs: “If I Could Turn Back Time,” “Strong Enough,” “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss),” “Just Like Jesse James.”
2) Tracy Chapman - One of my favorite singers! I highly, highly recommend listening to her. She has a very beautiful, very low voice and her calming music has won her four Grammys! Songs: “Fast Car,” “Give Me One Reason,” “Baby Can I Hold You,” “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” “Cold Feet,” “I’m Ready,” “New Beginning.”
4) Annie Lennox - She’s a great singer AND from “Eurythmics”! AND she sings for “Lord of the Rings”! That’s right, you have Annie and her memorable, beautiful deep voice to thank for some serious bops. Songs: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Walking on Broken Glass,” “Why,” “Into the West.”
5) Steam Powered Giraffe - If you’re looking for something more experimental, then this musical group is great for you! Isabella Bennet plays the accordion and sings. Songs: “Malfunction,” “Honeybee,” “Brass Goggles,” “Fire Fire.”
6) Shea Diamond - Incredible voice! She’s a 43 year old singer, songwriter, and trans rights activist and she’s amazing! She mostly sings soul and R&B and but her music also gives off rock and jazz vibes. Songs: “I Am America,” “Stand Up,” “I Am Her,” “American Pie,” “Smile.”
7) Jen Foster - She has a low voice which she uses to sing, write songs, produce records, and celebrate pride. Some great anthems here. Songs: “I Didn’t Just Kiss Her,” “This Is Me,” “She,” “Broken,” “Venice Beach.”
8) Yma Sumac -
My intention in sharing these singers was to show how beautiful and wonderful deep voices are— you have a beautiful voice. I know that can be difficult to remember, and I think it’s really powerful that you reached out to others. For me, listening to music is a good way to redirect my emotions when I think they start directing me too much. But there are lots of other options! Sometimes when I’m mad at my body I go on a bike ride or run up and down stairs until I’m panting. Then I try to focus on my breathing and muscles and how awesome it is that I have them to move and live.