I hate my voice. It is a daily struggle. Every time I open my mouth to speak I secretly hope that the voice that comes out will be different and every time I am disappointed.
My voice colors every interaction I have with other people. I am not really sure if I "pass" (which is to say hide the fact that I am transgender from strangers I meet) as a woman or not, but I certainly know that I give up any illusion as soon as I open my mouth. I know this because I can see the look people give me, of surprise, of betrayal, of confusion in their eyes as soon as I speak for the first time.
And it makes me question my relationships in ways I never I had to before. Prior to going full-time, I never saw what the big deal was if people used male pronouns in cases where they might be talking about people of any gender (ex: "Are all of you guys ready?", "Hey dudes, we should do some coke", etc.) but now it drives me crazy with doubt.
If someone calls me "dude" or "man" is it because of my voice? Would they use those pronouns if I sounded like Kristen Schaal instead? Do they not see me as a woman, even though I identify, dress and insist so because of my voice? Would there be such hesitation on their part when they do refer to me with female pronouns, or would there be a weird air of doubt after someone does so? Having started a new job and trying to make friends, I think about this all the time now.
In a way, I do think that everyone is willing to recognize me as female (AS THEY FUCKING SHOULD), but I worry that some people think they are humoring me in doing so, as if I am a small child wearing super hero pajamas and claiming to be able to fly or shoot lasers out of my eyes.
That said, I also am feeling textbook exclusion from boy's club-like social stuff, nothing overt or intentional, but that leads me to think they do see me as a lady. So is being a victim to the patriarchy a good sign? Maybe. I do not know.
The worst is when I have to talk to anyone on the phone. Every single phone call is just me counting down the seconds until someone uses the wrong pronoun. Most of the time it happens instantaneously.
"Yes, can I please speak with Alice?"
"Yes, this is she."
"No sir, I am looking to speak with Alice Lee"
"YES I AM ALICE."
"oh... um... "
If not, then it is just a parade of "sir"s all the way down. And I know you are thinking, "why not just correct them?". The thing is, I almost always freeze up when someone does this to me. I instantly feel completely defeated with no will to fight at all. So I usually let it pass and feel depressed about it.
Going into this, I knew it was going to be a problem. For years now I have known that I would need to do voice training, that my voice is a giveaway. I already worried a lot about going to places where I would be meeting lots of new people: the Jonathan Coulton cruise or PAX or MaxFunCon, and for the most part those went pretty well. It just never occurred to me that having to deal with it on an everyday basis would take this kind of toll on me.
On the other hand, a strong part of me feels "why do I need to change my voice?" I feel like I have had to deal with enough shit to be recognized as a woman already, how long do I have to keep giving?
I have endured years of being made fun of, both to my face in public and in private behind my back. I have been called a cross-dresser, a tranny and a faggot.
I am still, technically, considered to have a mental illness and I have had multiple therapists tell me that I am not actually transgender because I did not want it enough or because I would never pass or because it is an act of rebellion against my mother somehow. I had to put up with said mother telling me she considers me dead and for us to have a new, different relationship because of "the choices you are making".
I take hormones, have been shot at with lasers and will probably have multiple plastic surgeries before I am done. I have to dress, walk and act completely feminine at all times for constant fear I will not "pass". I have to think about every single thing I say or do in public for fear of how I will look because I have this 400-pound transgender monkey on my back.
And I have to learn how to speak again using a completely different voice. Part of me says "FUCK THAT SHIT" and the other part of me is tired and just wants to submit. The problem with submitting is that I still would have an incredible amount of work to "fix" my voice, which leaves me in the state I am currently in where I am both upset and exhausted by the whole ordeal.
Years ago, long before I had watched the Venture Brothers, someone described the character of Dr. Girlfriend to me.
"She is a lady with a deep voice. It is super sexy, I love that." he said.
I know now that he was lying. I know this, because I am a lady with a deep voice.