March 24, 2022
Colleen Conroy of UW-Madison is co-author of a new article published in Voice and Speech Review titled “An Interdisciplinary Approach to Gender-Affirming Voice Training.”
Conroy is an assistant professor in the School of Education Department of Theater and Drama. She and her co-authors of the article — Owen Karcher, an art therapist, and Kevin Pasternak, a speech pathologist — teamed up in February 2021 to offer a series of virtual, community-based voice feminization workshops for women. trans in Milwaukee.
In developing the workshops, the three saw an opportunity to combine the knowledge of their respective disciplines which are traditionally siloed. “We thought we probably had a lot of information to share (with each other),” Conroy says.
Conroy guided workshop participants through exercises she uses in her acting classes. “In my field, we really look at expression and how to tap into its authentic expression—and express its identity—using the techniques that I’ve learned in my field. So a lot of imagery, materialization and embodiment,” she says.
Additionally, Pasternak led vocal exercises based on his clinical knowledge of vocal science, and Karcher helped ensure a safe learning environment. The article describes their process and results, shares specific exercises, and includes recommendations for practitioners wishing to offer similar programming to transgender people seeking voice training.
The desired result? On an individual level, Conroy says, it’s an individual who feels happier and more comfortable with their voice.
Alex Corona, transgender program coordinator at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, says the workshops have made a huge difference for her clients.
“Many trans women feel deep dysphoria about their voice but live with this pain because they don’t know voice therapy is possible. (Through the workshops), we were able to break down the barrier that this stuff is out of reach and make the already difficult lives of trans people a little bit better. »
To find out more, see the full article in Voice and Speech Review.