Ruining Music To Accommodate Trans Insanity
While we can perhaps generalize by saying that a singer who undergoes testosterone-dominant puberty during adolescence will have a relatively larger larynx, vocal tract, and vocal folds, we have to also understand that every voice is different regardless of gender identity. No two cis women have the same size and shape vocal tract (not to mention resonance chambers!). We cannot dissect our students to look at and measure the physical differences between their larynges, but we know this to be true on some level. And so why do we continue to treat their voices as if they must line up on two sides of the spectrum in terms of gender? I may have come to this philosophy through a lens of inclusivity and safety for myself and my gender nonconforming students, but what of my cisgender students whose voices don’t fit the perceived norm? How many singers who identify as cisgender have developed inferiority complexes when they discover something “different” about their own instruments? When we talk about timbre in terms of what is to be desired or expected, we aren’t necessarily talking about vocal science, rather we are often talking about aesthetics. Rather than equating aesthetics with fact, wouldn’t our field be so much richer if we could teach the voice in front of us to sing with efficiency and comfort, and to explore the colors available to them as they relate to the styles THEY want to sing? Many of us who are teachers have experienced some form of gatekeeping in relation to our own journeys as students. Why would we want to place similar gates in the paths of our students?
While many strict categorical notions of the voice come from the western classical tradition, those of us who work in the diverse field of popular musics often receive our training either in classical programs or from teachers who began there. This issue of academia and training is perhaps another conversation entirely, but suffice it to say, the roots of white supremacy and cisnormativity run DEEP not only in our society, but also in our field! If we want to combat elitism in the music community and fully explore the diversity of styles available to us today, we must also re-examine the role of gender in upholding an outdated (and frankly, inaccurate) notion of how we view the human voice.
Who are you to tell that baritone with boobs that “she” can’t sing the soprano part? Bigot!
This is not just a random kook’s opinion. The reader who sent that to me said these conversations have been going on in music for at least five years. Here, for example, is a link to a piece on transgender choral students from Choral Journal, a journal of the field. Excerpt:
As the gender landscape in the United States becomes more complex, choral teachers may find it necessary to reconsider the structure and/or names of their choral ensembles. Will a “women’s choir” at the high school level serve the needs of all women—including trans women who sing in the lower octave? Will a “men’s choir” be inclusive of trans men who formerly sang soprano—or still wish to? Sara and Jon both sang in high school co-ed ensembles in which they transitioned quite easily. Skyler (who identifies as a-gender and uses they/them/their pronouns)began in a single-gender ensemble then moved into two co-ed choirs. Skyler was unsure about how they would feel about singing in a single-gender ensemble now that they have disclosed their non-binary identity. They said, “Sometimes I’m a little unsure about being in groups that are specifically labeled for a gender.” There are no easy answers. Choral educators should learn as much as they can about gender and how it influences their choral philosophy and pedagogy. If they discover incongruence, perhaps a change in program structure (or simply an ensemble name change) is called for.
Yes, in fact, there are easy answers: stick with what works. You cannot refute the reality of sound by insisting that reality fit into your imaginative construct, for the sake of creating a fake social harmony that doesn’t exist. This is madness. Progressives are behaving like Charles Foster Kane, pushing his wife Susan to perform in opera though she can’t sing it, because he thought he could, by force of will, bend reality to his desires.
These progressives are going to ruin music for the sake of Social Justice™. They refuse to see the world as it is. When will this stop? When will people tell the Emperor that he can’t sing soprano?
It’s going to happen sooner or later. But not before a lot of insanity, and a lot of destruction.