Voice Perceptions and Quality of Life of Transgender People

Published:November 08, 2010DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2010.07.013


      Despite the plethora of research documenting that the voice and quality of life (QoL) are related, the exact nature of this relationship is vague. Studies have not addressed people who consider their voice to influence their life and identity, but would not be considered to have a voice “disorder” (e.g., transgender individuals). Individuals seeking vocal feminization may or may not have vocal pathology and often have concerns not addressed on the standard psychosocial measures of voice impact. Recent development of a voice-related QoL measure specific to the needs of transgender care (Transgender Self-Evaluation Questionnaire [TSEQ]) affords opportunity to explore relationships between self-perceived QoL and perceptions of femininity and likability associated with transgender voice. Twenty male-to-female transgender individuals living as a female 100% of the time completed the TSEQ and contributed a speech sample describing Norman Rockwell’s “The Waiting Room” picture. Twenty-five undergraduate listeners rated voice femininity and voice likability after audio-only presentation of each speech sample. Speakers also self-rated their voices on these parameters. For male-to-female transgender clients, QoL is moderately correlated with how others perceive their voice. QoL ratings correlate more strongly with speaker’s self-rated perception of voice compared with others’ perceptions, more so for likability than femininity. This study complements previous research reports that subjective measures from clients and listeners may be valuable for evaluating the effectiveness of treatment in terms of how treatment influences voice-related QoL issues for transgender people.

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