California University Giving Transgender Students Speech Therapy to Sound Like 'Gender Identity'
The move seeks to 'reassure queer people' they 'have a place on campus'
A California public university is offering therapy sessions to transgender students to help them sound more like their chosen "gender identity."
Officials at San Francisco State University hope the clinic will "reassure queer people" by helping them speak more convincingly.
The University offers speech therapy to help transgender and nonbinary participants "find their voice," according to Campus Reform.
Assistant Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Anusha Sundarrajan is spearheading the initiative.
The coaching teaches techniques used for voice modification including exercises such as humming through a straw, according to the university.
Sundarrajan believes it's important that trans and nonbinary people hoping to change their voice use formal techniques.
Without the therapy, Sundarrajan says some may end up harming their vocal cords, leading to even greater problems.
Instead, Sundarrajan stresses the clinic teaches participants healthy practices to help in attaining their new voice.
"With our clinic, we provide a nonjudgmental space where our participants can find a voice that defines who they are," Sundarrajan said in a late January university news release.
"We want to create a safe and open environment for all our participants."
The release said "Sundarrajan and a team of graduate student clinicians meet with participants weekly to explore natural techniques of voice modification.
"Each session kicks off with group warm-up exercises — like humming through a straw to strengthen the vocal cords — followed by one-on-one time between the clinicians and participants under the supervision of Sundarrajan."
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Some of the other techniques clinic participants use, according to the university, are "techniques common in the field of speech-language pathology" such as "Conversation Training Therapy."
This type of training "involves switching between their current and target voice, a practice that builds their confidence in speaking with their target voice in everyday settings."
As a success story for the clinic's efforts, the university points to Lola Chase, a recent graduate who identifies as "transmasculine" — i.e., a biological female who "identifies on the male side of the gender spectrum."
"Prior to joining the clinic, I didn't know how to support my voice in a way that both aligns with my gender identity and is healthy," Chase said.
"I learned a lot from the clinic in that sense."
The recent graduate added, "This type of clinic reassures queer people that we have a place on campus and that we are being seen and heard."
The university adds that the clinic's services are open to the general public as well as "members of the campus community," but that priority is given to enrolled students.