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Gender Affirmative Voice Training: Approach and Technique

presented by Leah B. Helou, PhD, CCC-SLP and Wendy Vastine, MA, CCC-SLP

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Leah Helou is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, for which she receives a salary. Leah Helou receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.
Wendy Vastine is the director of Passaggio, the gender affirmative voice program at San Francisco Voice and Swallowing, and the owner of Transformative Voice, a private practice that in part serves trans and nonbinary singers. Wendy Vastine receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.
Kevin Dorman has no interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Nonfinancial: Leah Helou receives honoraria for invited presentations, and a portion of registration fees for training events, on the topic of transgender voice and communication. Leah Helou has no competing nonfinancial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.
Wendy Vastine receives honoraria for invited presentations, and a portion of registration fees for training events, on the topic of transgender voice and communication. Wendy Vastine has no competing nonfinancial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.
Kevin Dorman has no competing nonfinancial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Video Runtime: 80 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 20 Minutes

Transgender and/or nonbinary people and their vocal needs are gaining increased visibility. At the same time, even voice-specialized SLPs often struggle to know how to work with people in a way that fully honors their gender identity. Participants will gain an introductory understanding of the main target areas that a transgender person may wish to address in their voice and some foundational approaches for targeting these areas. Guidance will be provided on how to avoid enforcing a clinician's own gender bias and other forms of microaggressions throughout the therapy and assessment process for truly patient-centered care.

Meet Your Instructors

Leah B. Helou, PhD, CCC-SLP

Leah B. Helou, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. As a researcher, Dr. Helou aims to ask questions and solve problems related to the neural and psychological pathways that underpin healthy and disordered voice and speech production. She maintains several distinct yet intertwined lines of…

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Wendy Vastine, MA, CCC-SLP

Wendy Vastine (they/them), CCC-SLP, is a voice-specialized speech-language pathologist at San Francisco Voice & Swallowing, where they direct Passaggio, the gender affirmative voice training program. They have been working with trans voices for about 15 years through their private practice, Transformative Voice, and they have been exploring the connection between voice and identity for over…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Introduction to Gender Affirmative Voice Work

This chapter reviews terminology and introduces some of the most common microagressions against trans and/or nonbinary individuals and how they specifically may play out when working with their voices. In order to avoid the potential harm of microaggressions in voice and communication training, potential antidotes are also proposed.

2. Cultural Humility in Assessment and Therapy

This chapter introduces potential therapy targets and assessment considerations that are unique to gender affirming voice and communication training. Potential microaggressions, such as overlooking voice beyond gender and denial of body privacy, and their antidotes continue to be interwoven throughout the assessment and therapeutic process to propose alternative statements and perspectives.

3. Anatomy and Physiology of Pitch and Resonance

Through the lens of how they apply to transgender and nonbinary voices, basic anatomy, physiology, and voice science principles are presented here, as well as information about how vocal structures change over the age span. Voice changes in response to hormone therapy are also described.

4. Foundational Approaches

This chapter begins with information about counseling, metatherapy, and vocal sense of self, all of which are relevant and sometimes even critical during the course of gender affirmative voice and communication training. Other foundational voice therapy approaches are also described, including work with the breath and resonance.

5. Adding in the Layers

Techniques for working on pitch and resonance are described in greater detail here. Differences in resonance are demonstrated, and cautionary notes are provided to help clinicians ensure that their training offerings are legitimately gender affirming. MedBridge guest Kevin Dorman, MS, CCC-SLP, joins Wendy Vastine in a discussion about how they work with gender affirming resonance.

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