A New Voice

2 min
at 11:43 PM

My life one year ago was drastically different. I often chose not to speak up, because it required too much energy, then. What's changed is that people listen to me now.

Today, the frequency of my voice is a lot lower-well, kind of. This month, I turned 24 and have an easily identifiable trans-boy voice - whiny and static. This month also marks my first anniversary on testosterone.

I remember that my female voice was the first thing I wanted to change. It almost made me cringe. It was soft, high, and unsteady. And with it, I'd routinely have to slip out into a saga of half-syllables to get anyone's attention. Or, I had to claw my way to the bottom of the vocal hierarchy, or, even better, wait for an ideal pause that never really seemed to come. And, if I were to actually speak, I still had to make sure that my pulse wouldn't be heard wildly in my voice.

Nothing about my body has really changed, except my body hair growth and how I sound. But people almost always listen to me now. In group settings, I can say virtually anything and folks will stop and shift their heads. I don't have to fish for the right words or that ideal pause anymore. I just dive, because my nervousness is less obvious, and because I'm expected to take up space and speak now.

Now that I'm on the other side of the vocal divide, the cultural misogyny that devalues the many facets of femaleness is clear to me. I'm not alone. I have female friends who tell me they'd like to take testosterone just to change their voice.

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I've been on testosterone for one year, and I still can't tell if I'm transgender because of gender dysphoria or internalized misogyny, or if I'm more comfortable in my body than ever before because I have more privilege than ever before. But I do know that it's okay to not know, and that I should do something if I've wanted to do that thing every day for four years, and that hormone treatment ultimately means differential treatment.

It extends beyond my voice, and sometimes even beyond words.

With a Perspective, I'm Shak'ar Mujukian.

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Shak'ar Mujukian is a transmedia storyteller and aspiring game designer based in San Francisco.

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