Monday, May 21, 2012

Dysphoria Busters

Dysphoria* is something that can get to a lot of us.   Sometimes, talking to a friend or family member or a therapist can be really helpful, and provide us with specific ways to help us move through these periods successfully.  But, if you don’t have access to a knowledgeable therapist or the tips friends have given you just aren’t working, it can be pretty tough to work out what to do.  Here are some ideas that I or friends of mine have used that have helped

1. Listen to Music    -     create a playlist that you know will help you feel better. Whether it’s music that distracts you, empowers you, or that you can sympathize with it, just stop and listen for a while.

2. Watch Something    -    funny, distracting, a mystery; whatever will hold your focus and take you away for long enough for you to try and gain your footing again

3. Eat Something    -    make yourself a treat. Or buy something delicious. No matter how odd or sugary or anything, so long as it doesn’t pose you immediate danger, savor it.

4. Take it Out    -    take a pillow, leash, belt or something similar in both hands and attack something sturdy. It could be your bed or a table or a tree, but yell whatever you’re feeling and beat the daylights out of that inanimate object until you’re too tired to continue.

5. Activate!     -    do research, write a post, make a video; do something to contribute to getting to where you want to be and/or helping the community.

6. Art    -    create something unique and powerful. It could relate to your dysphoria or not – just design something and focus on creating it until it’s done.  The good thing about art is that you can never run out of ideas, and it never has to get old.

7. Read    -    whether queer graphic novels, classic literature, or trans* fanfiction is your pleasure, find something and start reading, and don’t worry about how long you stay absorbed in it

8. Write a Letter    -    or a journal entry about how you feel. Perhaps write it to your future self, or to that person or part of society that manages to trigger you every time. Keep it, burn it, or stick it on your wall.

9. Write on Your Body    -    whether you want to draw a moustache on your face in eyeliner or put on full makeup, or write quotes, lyrics, symbols, images, or phrases on your body, do so. You can take the makeup off whenever you want, and you can write on a part of your body no one else will be seeing. Or you can leave it on/write on your face or arms or hands for the world to see.  If possible, it might help to write on a particular body part that is making you feel dysphoric. Then, when you look at it, you can remember that you’re in control of your body, and see whatever reminder you left for yourself.

10. Change it Up    -    get a piercing, cut and/or die your hair, choose to shave as little or as much as you’d like, get a tattoo, wear something new and different, put on dramatic makeup. Do something to your body that you can control, that does show who you are (or who you want to be or someone else entirely) on the outside.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed health professional.  If possible, seeking assistance from one, especially if you have a persistent problem, is the best course of action.

Not all of these will work for everyone! Some will work wonders, some will work a little, some will do nothing, and some may actually make it worse. As always when coping with this sort of thing, know your triggers, and make choices based around those. Other than that, do whatever it takes to keep you relatively safe and make you feel better.

note: If you have other ideas/suggestions, feel free to send them to me at! (I'm trying to keep a running personal list, and one on a permalink on Tumblr that people can easily access.)

* Dysphoria isn’t really adequate to describe all the different emotions and mental states related to trans* experiences that can keep you from being your best, most energetic self. Since it’s the most commonly recognized term I’ve seen, I use it here as a catchall to describe a variety of things trans*people can experience.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vocal Subversion

Want a deeper voice? But aren’t sure which tricks to follow and which to avoid?  Not to worry!  I’ve got some basic info on how to gain better control over your voice and how to lower it, pre-T or on T.*

For a lot of us, our voice is a main factor contributing to us being misgendered, seen as younger than we are, feeling less confident in public, and general dysphoria.  Those who are no-ho, but would like a lower voice, can use the following tips, as can those who are on T.

*Disclaimer: I have about a decade of vocal work and training under my belt. However, I am not the definitive source on vocal health and work, nor a doctor. I cannot, nor do I intend to provide medical advice.

Speaking in  a Lower Register – This is the most common tip I’ve seen, and apparently the easiest. Just try to speak in the lowest register you can, right?  This can be helpful, and may slightly lower your voice over time, but it won’t produce dramatic results.  And, if consistently pushed low without the proper technique, you can injure or strain your voice.

Vocal Therapy – Though most often used by people wanting to speak in a higher register, there are vocal therapists out there who can help coach you to a lower speaking range. The upside is that they are experienced and can help you stay safe and find your limits.  The downside is that they typically charge a fair amount per session, and you’ll need a number of sessions to make substantial progress.

Vocal Exercises – There are several sets of vocal exercises you can do to lower your voice on your own. These take between five and fifteen minutes each day, and, if you stick to it, there can be noticeable changes.  You can buy a kit or “program”, but there are several free ones out there. I’ve found the following exercise most helpful:  

When using these, keep a few things in mind:

1. Make sure that you use a quick exercise to warm up your voice first. These exercises strengthen vocal tissue in certain areas. Like any muscle, if you don’t warm up properly before exercising it, it can be very easily injured. Vocal tissue is very tender, and can take a very long time to properly recover. 

You can try a singing exercise where you sing a short melody in a variety of increasing, than decreasing octaves. Or, if you don’t sing, say “Mee, may, my, moh, moo”. On each word, start at your natural speaking pitch (not the lower one you may try to speak at), hold out the vowel sound, and just slowly increase pitch as high as you can and then decrease it until you can’t go any lower.

2. NEVER do anything that hurts or makes your voice uncomfortable. If your voice does hurt or feel very uncomfortable afterwards, take a break for a few days, and don’t push it as hard the next time. As with exercise, quick results aren’t worth long-term injury

3. DON’T rush it. It may take you a few weeks to even start to see a change, but if you keep with them, the change will continue for months. 

The important part is then implementing this in your speech. After a few weeks of any of these exercises, start trying to speak in the range of whatever word or sound you use a level or two lower than your natural pitch. (For example, aim for the “dong” or the “king”pitch you use from the video exercise.) If you’re on T, a combination of some short exercises (for example, the first part of the video exercise), and being mindful of your target speaking range can really help you feel more comfortable in your new natural register, and give you more vocal control.


Screaming regularly. This will make your voice horse and perhaps a little lower. But you can cause serious vocal tissue inflammation and destruction this way.

Smoking. If done for the sole purpose of lowering your voice, it really isn’t worth it. You get damaged vocal tissue and less vocal control, and if you do start T, a voice affected by smoking will make your voice more prone to strain and cracking

Vocal exercises during the first several months of T or a bad cold. While some very light warm-ups might not be a problem, your voice is already going through a lot of physical changes, and your brain is already trying to adapt to those in how you speak. Doing exercises during this transition period won’t help significantly, and could cause damage to your voice where they otherwise wouldn’t.

Questions? Other tips? Comments? Feel free to write to us at !

Friday, May 4, 2012

Please Help Gendercast Out!

We are doing a small fundraiser to help out with a new mic and funds for our trip to the Philly Trans Health Care Conference, where we will be presenting a workshop on Gendercast and hopefully meeting some of YOU!

Jesse + Sean