What happens at Confident Voices?
What do we actually do at Confident Voices?
Understandably, there is often a curiosity, if not a scepticism, around what exactly it is that I do when I work with transgender clients on voice and communication. More often than not, it is expected that I will perform an overall assessment of someone’s masculinity or femininity, and prescribe a list of things to work on in order to achieve the desired effect. I often think of the classic book and film, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – she is a fountain of womanly wisdom and is there to guide her charges through the complexities of female life. They trust her knowledge, she has all the answers. Some of my clients hope for this kind of guidance, others would reject it. The fact of the matter is this is not what happens when you work with me. This is not finishing school.
I am opposed to “prescriptivism”, which dictates that you have to behave in a certain way in order to be taken seriously as a particular gender. I don’t believe in universals – when people say that “women have better posture than men” or that “men interrupt more than women” I get really rankled! Which women? Which men? In what context? I also don’t believe that trans people should necessarily have to conform to rigid standards of beauty or presentation, nor indeed that passing should be assumed to be the top priority. It’s not that you shouldn’t or can’t, but I don’t think it’s my or anyone else’s right to dictate what your gender expression should look like, or what your life goals should be. Those are all your choices. That’s what self-determination is all about, and what the YOUR in Express YOUR Gender stands for!
So in that case, what is it that we do together?
This group is about learning, primarily you learning about yourself, learning from each other, and learning from me. We often don’t take time to think about how we want to live, what our values are, who we identify with, what our passions are. My experience working with trans clients is that the pre-occupation with gaining acceptance, building up the courage to come out, or go out, or go shopping, and the pressure to meet diagnostic criteria and satisfy medical requirements for hormone treatment and so forth, means that just sitting in a non-judgemental space and asking, “what kind of woman, person, man, am I?” is a much needed activity. You have already got all the knowledge and expertise about yourself, and sometimes, just being asked the right questions and given space to answer them without fear is all you need. Hearing and sharing with others is a key learning and development resource too.
My own knowledge and expertise comes from four different areas: Linguistics, which is the scientific study of language and communication; Speech & Language Therapy, which relates to the clinical aspects of voice and also to motivation, psychology and achieving change; Gender Studies, which allows for a deeper understanding of gender in society; and 5 years experience working with transgender clients. Together we explore where it is we want to get to, acknowledging that those goals can change over time and individually. One person might want to develop more resilience and confidence when they go out with their friends on Saturday nights, and be able to chat to new people in a social setting. Someone else might be very conscious that their voice is especially masculine and they would like it to be more feminine. Yet another might want to perfect their professional presentation skills so they can speak at an upcoming conference or staff meeting. Your goals are very individual and all are important and legitimate.
We will all work on our voices together, so that the technique is known to you and you can return to it at a later stage if and when voice becomes a priority. We will observe how people in different “communities of practice” (your work place, gym, online gaming group, etc.) communicate and express gender. We find out what is worth trying out, we test it out, we figure out what’s right. We explore gender expression.
Something nice for YOU!
There is something special about sharing this space together. Taking time out on a Saturday afternoon and doing something constructive for yourself. How often do any of us do that? I have always been a fan of a holistic approach to voice and communication therapy. The upcoming course will be femme-oriented. While we will cover areas like voice feminisation, non-verbal communication (facial expression, gesture, posture etc.), conversation skills and so forth, I love to incorporate breathing work, stress-management, mindfulness, affirmations, and much more. I want you to feel a bit better about yourself and your journey through this course, and to know that you are loved, and valued, and worth spending this time on. You deserve it!
Confident Voices group sessions will start on Saturday 8th October 2016 at 3.oo-5.00pm in Mountjoy Square and run for 6 weeks. You will have a private session before and after the course, included in the course fee of €500.00*.
*A sliding fee is available for those who find the full fee a barrier. Just let me know what you can afford between €200.00 and €500.00.
Download the Confident Voices Flyer here.
Read more about Confident Voices here.