My Name Is Iden | Finding my voice
- Published: March 29, 2022
By Iden Crockett
I doubt very much that I will ever be more nervous or frightened than I was the first day I presented as female and went out into the world.
It was July 5, 2020. I spent at least two hours ransacking my wife’s wardrobe, trying to find some clothes into which I could squeeze my 5-foot-10, 210-pound bodybuilder frame. I shaved three times and still looked like I was on day four of a five-day tour of the country via boxcar.
Finally, I thought I had it. I looked like a woman. Nobody would be able to clock me as otherwise.
Unless I had to speak. I knew — even then — that no matter how good I looked or how passable I became, my deep man’s voice would always give me away.
My early trans experience, I believe, is pretty typical for trans women. I became obsessed with passing, a term that, when used by the trans community, means that the world sees you and perceives you to be the gender you perceive yourself to be.
I didn’t want to be called “sir” when I went out. I wanted “ma’am.” I wanted to pass. I could change my body and my clothes, grow out my hair — but what do you do when you have a very deep, masculine voice? No worries — you just get a new one.
I would change my voice. Why not? I was changing everything else. It seemed perfectly reasonable and, like many other trans people, I had never liked my voice. It had never sounded right, never sounded like me.
So I got started. I researched vocal training. I watched video after video. I practiced, talking to myself, alone, in the car. I read aloud. I did anything that I could think of to practice sounding like a woman so that I could pass. And it was working! I sounded totally different and I loved it. For the first time in my life, my voice sounded like it belonged to me.
I was thrilled — until I ordered a pizza.
“OK, sir, that will be ready for you in about 30 minutes.”
“Sir.” Mehhh! It hadn’t worked.
All of that practice and I still didn’t pass.
But thank goodness for that pizza guy. Thank goodness, because he reminded me of something important that I had lost sight of. “Passing” was not why I began my gender transition. I wasn’t changing from “he” to “she.” I was changing from “he” to “Me.”
That innocent, misgendering pizza guy had no idea what a revelation in my thinking he had sparked. I now see passing for what it is: a fear-induced response to internalized transphobia. I wanted to pass because I was afraid to be seen as transgender.
Passing as a cisgender male was what I had been doing my whole life, and I had been miserable.
If I changed my voice in a way designed just to make me passable as a cisgender female, then I would be no happier and no more myself than I had been before. I am not cisgender — I never was.
After that day, I still trained my voice — but not to sound like a cis woman. I trained it to sound like Iden. Because it isn’t important to me now whether or not the world at large sees or hears a “he” or a “she.” What’s important is that they see and hear me.
Now when I speak, it is with a voice that I am proud of, a voice that I love, a voice that is my very own.
*Iden Crockett is an artist and writer. She lives in Yellow Springs with her wife and three children. You can follow her work at http://www.mynameisiden.com.