trans voice

Singing, it's a thing in my life -by Lee Hanten

Despite the fact that I write about my gender A LOT on this blog, I know I’ve also written about how restrictive I find it to be defined by my gender. I hate leading with the fact that I’m trans in conversation, I hate perpetually “coming out” to strangers because 1) It’s frankly none of their business and 2) It’s genuinely more important to me that you know Green Lantern is my favorite member of the Justice League than it is that you know anything about my gender identity (well, as long as you get my pronouns right). So, when I made the decision back in October of last year to join a group specifically BECAUSE I’m trans, it was kid of a big deal for me. I’ve never really been active part of the queer or trans community. It somehow always felt weird to seek out people that are ‘like me’ so to speak for the same reasons I hated when people made assumptions about me for my gender. Also, I don’t particularly like large groups so I never did the whole Pride Parade thing. The only thing I’ve ever sought out explicitly because I was trans was a therapist and Howard Brown Medical Center.

Anyway, many months ago a friend posted a link on Facebook (meant for someone else, but I’m a lurker so I found it) about a choir for trans voices. The last time I sang in a choir was seventh grade, but I grew up singing in the car, and the shower, and while riding my bike, and even in a terrible attempt at a punk band once in high school. So, I was intrigued. I’d been on testosterone for about a year and had been struggling to find my new singing voice. I had all kinds of new low notes in my range, but there was also a space where my singing voice used to be that simply didn’t produce sound anymore. The idea of a choir sounded terrifying. It also sounded like it could be really fun. So, I showed up that first night of practice. I had only been back in Chicago for a couple months and was looking forward to meeting some new people, especially people that wouldn’t make fun of my shaky singing voice.

Every Tuesday night since, I’ve spent my evenings with some of the most interesting and compassionate people I’ve ever met. We sing disco. We sing madrigals. Sometimes we sing trashy pop music at karaoke. It’s been great. Since moving back to Chicago I’ve gone through some heavy periods of depression, like not leaving my house for days- feeling somewhere between sorry for myself and downright inoperable, but every week choir has managed to motivate me to shower and leave the house for at least a few hours. Since starting, I’ve been a little happier. My voice has gotten stronger. I’ve learned how to expand and control my range better. I still have moments where a note was supposed to come out and my vocal chords betray me, but I don’t feel scared to sing in front of people. I don’t feel like I have to apologize for my voice. And more than anything, I feel like I have friends.