My fucking voice

madonnaArticle contains mentions of dysphoria. [image: Otter on stage in Marseilles dressed in a pretty blue top reading from Margins and Murmurations]

Listen to the audio version!

My voice. My fucking voice. This week I spoke into a microphone, slow, sultry. Let’s call it a spoken word performance although the very concept terrifies me. And I heard myself, pushed through cables and speakers, amplified. And my voice, it was low. It was so fucking low. There are times when I’m in the shower, singing only for myself without shame when my voice even growls. Apparently I have a tiger inside me that only hot water and privacy can release.

I’m on the stage, in front of an audience and this loud, low voice is echoing all around us. And it hits me then, how hard it is to sound like this. To have a voice associated with one gender, but to belong to another. To be put with the men in the 5 minutes I managed to survive choir class because, we all have the same voice. And this is what men sound like.

So many of the women – cis and trans – in my life don’t sound like me. Their voices are rich, and high. And higher. Such a sexy, beautiful and feminine sound that I adore and want to curl up inside and sleep for a week. But my voice doesn’t do that. I don’t have the hormones, the physiology or the training and all that comes out where there should be lightness and harmony is a deep rumble of the coming storm.

But I need to be gentle here. There’s no logical reason the sounds that come out of my mouth should have anything to do with my gender, my transness, my womanhood, my right to exist. It’s just a voice box, a laryngeal prominence, the part of my neck most difficult to shave. It’s undeniably a part of me and it isn’t going anywhere fast.

And it’s my fucking voice. The voice I use to fuck. To protect myself with, to defend my friends and express my desires. To whisper to my dearest ones and to sing my heart out. To read the deep, personal secrets no longer kept, because I wrote them in a novel and I stand in front of strangers and share my words, formed with my complex mouth, tongue and voice and I push them out into technology. Radio interviews. Podcasts. Audio books. My voice is public now and there’s no way back.

Nothing prepared me for this, but I’m already pushing through. Already integrating. I’m a story-teller after all and I have work to do. While my fingers skim delicately over a keyboard as they always have, my voice also has a part to play in this dance. My delicate, robust voice, so low, so perfectly, femininely low, is there with me. With her, I can invite people in and to whisper my gratitude. It’s just a frequency after all. And it’s mine.

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