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SLU Reinert Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic Offers Gender-Affirming Voice Training

Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Reinert Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic offers gender-affirming voice training as a way for clients to work to align their voice and communication to better represent their gender and desired gender positioning. The gender-affirming voice training program - launched by the university’s Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) department in June 2021 - has seen patients ranging from ages 19 – 49 and has helped trans females, trans males and non-binary individuals find their voice.

SLHS Reinert Clinic
SLU's Reinert Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic recently began offering gender-affirming voice training as a service to clients working to align their voice to the gender and desired gender positioning.

In honor of June being Pride Month, this is the second in a series of five articles announcing different initiatives from the Transgender Health Collaborative of Saint Louis University (SLU) that aim to improve healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community. Read the first article in the series: SLU Nutrition and Dietetics Awarded Research Grant to Study Strength Training and Nutrition in Transgender Community

Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Reinert Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic offers gender-affirming voice training as a way for clients to work to align their voice and communication to better represent their gender and desired gender positioning. The gender-affirming voice training program - launched by the university’s Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) department in June 2021 - has seen patients ranging from ages 19 – 49 and has helped trans females, trans males and non-binary individuals find their voice.

As with all of the Reinert clinic’s service, the gender-affirming voice training is a no-cost service. This allows members of the community whose insurance does not cover this type of care and would otherwise not be able to afford it to have access to this service. SLHS Director of Clinical Education Emily Buxbaum, MS, CCC-SLP, explained the general process for a gender-affirming voice training patient.

“The course of training starts with an evaluation where we do a thorough case history interview with each client, then assess multiple aspects of their voice through acoustic and perceptual measures,” Buxbaum said. “Once we have a good understanding of the client's goals and objective information about their voice and other qualitative analysis, we can set goals to help the client change and modify their voice and speech appropriately. We work with patients on things like breath support, pitch, intonation, resonance and other non-verbal aspects of communication.”

Gender-affirming voice and communication training is a growing practice within the field of speech-language pathology. Under Buxbaum’s supervision, SLHS graduate student-clinicians work with these patients and develop their clinical knowledge and skill. Elle West is one student of the students involved in this program at the Reinert Clinic and she explained why she wanted to be involved in this program.

“I became interested in the gender-affirming voice training as soon as I learned that it was a service speech-language pathologists could provide,” West said. “As a member of the LGTBQ+ community, I loved the idea of supporting other members of the community. I felt it would be such a privilege to assist someone in finding a voice that they feel truly happy and comfortable with, as our voices can be a very big part of our identity.”

Julianne Martin, another SLHS student involved in the gender-affirming voice training program, discussed how it feels to watch a patient progress through the program.

“It feels incredibly rewarding and deeply gratifying to hear the progress a patient makes to sound more true to their desired presentation. It can be life-affirming for clients to receive this voice training as it affects how they present to the world and how they perceive themselves,” Martin said. 

Anyone hoping to learn more about gender-affirming voice training, or any of the Reinert Clinic’s many other speech, language and hearing services, can contact the clinic at SLUSpeechHearingClinic@slu.edu.

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service. Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 13,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of more than 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.