Does anyone really like the sound of their own voice? I sure don’t like mine, never have, even when I used to sing as a kid and young adult. Even though I have never liked my voice it’s never been a source of emotional distress as it can be for transgender women. Carli is almost always appropriately gendered by strangers in face to face interactions but is misgendered 100% of the time when speaking with strangers on the phone. This has been wearing on her even more lately, so she is going to speech therapy now and is determined to find her Carli voice.
While Carli is quite literally finding her speaking voice, she is also finding her personal voice. She came out to the world on June 29 of this year and has since been slowly, gently, helping people get to know the real Carli. Recently she has started consistently correcting people who slip up on pronouns or use the wrong name. She says it’s been long enough, the time for free passes is over. She is finding her voice!
Once Carli gave me the go ahead I started sharing our story with anyone who would listen. I am sure my friends are tired of hearing me go on about transgender issues and equal rights and bathroom bills and shopping experiences and makeup and on and on and on……….I didn’t think I had any problem finding my voice! That is, until the election on November 8.
Suddenly I felt like my voice didn’t matter, it was too small, that sharing our little love story wasn’t enough to prevent the world from falling to pieces. The ignorance and hatred expressed during the campaign were sure to be followed up with mirrored behaviors, possibly even with amplified intensity. Is it going to be enough now just to talk to people about how much we love each other and to be an example of what is possible when people are allowed to be authentic? I want desperately to find a bigger, louder, stronger, more prominent in-your-face kind of voice that will carry our message of acceptance, love, and quest for equality to the far reaches of our country!!
Okay, how do I that? Really, I’m open to suggestions here.
I can tell our story, but there are limitations. Does anyone care about the positive spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend experiences? We hear a lot about the tough relationships that ended because of transitions. In this media climate, the dramatic stories always seem to get the most attention. I will not lie and say it’s been simple or that we haven’t hit rough spots. But we simply do not want to dwell on the negative. Constantly pointing out flaws and faults does nothing to heal hearts or help people see the value in equality. That’s not the voice I want to share.
Carli and I have a wonderful circle of supportive friends. They’ve been patient and kind, listening to me rant on about everything transgender. They’ve read my stories and made the most lovely, thoughtful comments, expressing their love and support at every turn. My family has been wonderful, choosing to believe in us even though it is hard to understand. In the grand scheme of things, though, my voice isn’t carrying very far. My voice isn’t bigger, louder, stronger, or more in-your-face. Yet.
The pitch of Carli’s voice is changing with practice. She is sounding more feminine, beginning to sound like the woman she truly is. Her strength in being visible and gently requiring respect is growing. She is finding a way that works for her. I need to find a way to change the pitch of my voice, to make it carry all the way to the lobby, past the last row of seats and out to the street. I don’t want to change my message at all, being out together is possible and beautiful and I want everyone to know it! I just want to up the intensity and expand the reach. I don’t know how to do this yet, but I will figure it out. For a variety of reasons, I can’t be the one standing on the steps of the capitol building with a bullhorn, but there are others who fill this role beautifully. Perhaps Carli and I will find a way to combine our voices with others in the community, creating a chorus that cannot be ignored or legislated out of existence.
Bigger, louder, stronger, in-your-face voices. We will find them.