Sam Holstein

My Voice Is Soft and Pretty and I’m Finally Accepting It

My Voice Is Soft and Pretty and I’m Finally Accepting It

One of the first ways I knew I was nonbinary — one of the first ways I knew I was different before I even knew what it meant to be nonbinary — was how I felt about my voice. Young girls want their voices to be high-pitched. We are all familiar with the way middle school and high school age girls attempt to speak in increasingly high octaves, especially around boys they like, sometimes until their voice squeaks like the voice of an anime character.

Not me. My vocal role model was Ivan Moody, vocalist of the heavy metal band Five Finger Death Punch. A small part of me logically understood it was very unlikely I’d ever have the same vocal range as him, but in the privacy of my own car, I relentlessly practiced singing like him — and screaming like him — all the same.

My speaking pitch was different too. Where most young girls squeaked, I tried wherever I could, whenever I could, to avoid that at all costs. Over the years, I unconsciously started speaking in a lower and lower pitch. When I turned 24, I started to consciously speak in a lower pitch too, wondering what life might be like if I publicly presented myself as the nonbinary person I am.

Around the same time, my throat started to hurt. My voice wasn’t meant to be this low (and by this low, I mean a normal-to-high pitch). In the privacy of my own home, when I take a deep breath and let my body speak in the way that came easiest and most naturally, my voice is the natural and beautiful high-pitch trill so many high school girls yearn for. Like my thick beautiful hair and curvy body, these traits of femininity many people work so hard for seem wasted on me.

I’m tired of speaking in a way that hurts and takes effort. I want to breathe deeply and speak naturally, the way so many other people do.

I entertained the idea of going on hormone therapy. Among other things, it would change the pitch of my voice. But I don’t like medications and body alterations more than I don’t like my voice and body fat distribution, so for now, I’m not interested in HRT. The voice I have is the voice I have.

I’m Radically Accepting My Voice

My voice may not be the pitch I originally wanted, but it is okay to have a high-pitched voice. Like so many men, I’ve always worried my high-pitched voice makes me look weak. But the notion of higher-pitched voices being “weak” or “girly” are sexist, bigoted ideas we’ve projected on a neutral physical trait. The strength of my character and the tone of my voice are completely separate things.

We don’t choose the body we’re born with. Many of us, trans or not, are not born with the vocal pitch we would have picked for ourselves. But you are still valid, regardless of what your voice sounds like. You can be tough, or a man, even if you have a pretty voice. All that makes you is a tough man with a pretty voice.

If you’ve decided not to get HRT or don’t have access to HRT — or you’re not trans and you just don’t like the way your voice sounds — consider this your permission to exist as you are. You don’t have to change your voice. You are still valid.