Speech Pathology Programs Promoting Access to Transgender Voice Therapy

Voice is a huge part of who we are and how we communicate. For transgender people, especially transgender women, it can be challenging to learn how to speak in voices that reflect their authentic selves. Authentic voice is important not only for expression and self esteem, but also as added safety against the threats, harassment, or worse that many people who are perceived as transgender deal with on a daily basis.

Transgender voice therapy services can positively impact a person’s ability to vocally express themselves in a way that aligns with their true identity. Transgender females especially benefit from these services, as the hormones they take during transition do not change the voice in any noticeable way (many transgender men are satisfied with the vocal changes that come with taking testosterone). Voice therapy can help a transgender female safely increase the frequency and pitch of her voice without risking the vocal chord straining and hoarseness that can come with trying to change her voice on her own. Additionally, therapy can help achieve additional characteristics of female or male voice, including resonance, volume, intonation, articulation, language, pragmatics, and breath support. Therapy may even address body language, coughing, and clearing the throat- seemingly small acts that are actually often perceived as an indication of gender. It is also important that therapy considers the emotional aspects of changing one’s voice and the fact that not all transgender and nonbinary people have the same goals for their voices- therapy programs are tailored to each individual.

A Void in Transgender Voice Therapy Availability

Although there are well over a million transgender people in the US, many of them in need of voice therapy, SLPs are often not prepared to give transgender clients the care that they need. According to a 2015 study by George Washington University researchers Adrienne Hancock and Gregory Haskin, 47% of SLPs do not learn about providing transgender voice therapy in any capacity during their master’s program and 51% of the SLPs don’t know how to describe communication therapy for transgender individuals. While a majority of SLPs believe this is in their scope of work, only a small percentage feel confident in providing these services to a client, according to a 2015 survey in the International Journal of Transgenderism. This lack of knowledge and confidence among professionals makes it hard for transgender people in many areas to find the voice therapy that they need.

Thankfully, many speech pathology master’s programs are responding to this need by offering transgender voice therapy services in their speech and hearing clinics. By offering these services, SLP students are able to actually gain experience treating speech and voice issues specific to transitioning. We commend the following speech-language pathology programs for offering such services in their clinics so that not only are these services available now, they will also be even more accessible as trained graduates take what they’ve learned with them to practices all over the country.

Schools Promoting Transgender Access to Voice Therapy Care

The following speech pathology programs have publicly promoted their transgender voice services and have made it clear that they are trying to better prepare their students to serve transgender clients. All American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) accredited master’s programs that mention that they offer transgender voice therapy on their clinic site or through a news source are included:

Published: 5/27/2019

Adelphi University

Adelphi’s Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders in Manhattan offers a Transgender Voice Group for clients to work on finding their authentic voice. The goals of this group are to increase awareness of practices regarding vocal and communication feminization, integrate therapy techniques that can be practiced at home, and support clients in the group setting as they use what they learn to augment their voices. Individual sessions are also available. Cost is $50 per semester, which is 12-14 weeks.

For more information, contact the Hy Weinberg Center for Communication Disorders at 516-877-4850

Arizona State University

The ASU Speech and Hearing Clinic started offering specialized services for transgender clients in the summer of 2018 for 10 weeks per semester, featuring weekly 50 minute sessions. These services are available to anyone and are covered by some insurances. Those who are seeking an evaluation can get one at the clinic as well.

For more information, contact the ASU Speech and Hearing Clinic at 480-965-2373

Boston University

BU as opened a new voice clinic at their Speech, Language, and Hearing Center that includes services for transgender people. Clients can request an appointment once they have a diagnosis. Transgender-specific services are currently offered on Thursdays from 3 to 8PM. These services are administered by graduate students and are free to anyone who needs them.

For more information, contact the Voice Disorders Center at 617-353-3188

College of Saint Rose

The university’s Pauline K. Winkler Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic offers weekly 2 hour group sessions. Sessions kick off with a mindfulness component, followed by vocal strength and flexibility exercises, time to address individual client needs, and a gratitude activity to finish the session. These sessions are available to anyone, and cost about $150 for a semester.

For more information contact Dr. Jack Pickering at pickerij@strose.edu or 518-454-5236

CSU Sacramento

The Maryjane Rees Language, Speech, and Hearing Center offers a TRANSitions Voice Clinic for those looking to find a voice that matches their gender. The clinic consists of twice a week, 70 minute sessions for two weeks. Twenty minutes are reserved for group instruction and conversation, with the remaining 50 minutes being reserved for one on one therapy. Services are available during the semester when graduate students are available. The clinic is a donations only clinic that is open to the community.

For more information contact The Maryjane Rees Language, Speech, and Hearing Center at 916-278-6601

Emerson College

The Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center offers individual and group voice therapy- including evaluation, therapy sessions, and follow up evaluations- for transgender individuals. Anyone can benefit from these services, which are $30 per individual session and $25 per group session. Emerson was the first school in the Boston area to offer transgender specific services of this kind with the goal of training graduate students to fill the void in available voice therapy care for transgender individuals.

For more information contact Donna at Robbins_Center@emerson.edu or 617-824-8323

George Washington University

Professor Adrienne Hancock received a $300,000 grant from NIH to research voice and gender. The George Washington University Speech & Hearing Center launched Access and Barriers to Communication Services- aimed at identifying treatment barriers to those who are most marginalized, including transgender people. The program’s clinic offers an individualized approach to treatment that takes note of the fact that not all clients have the same goals- some do not want to cross a traditional pitch threshold or sound cisgender.

Graduate students provide therapy to clients that also focuses on emotional wellbeing, including the emotions tied to leaving an old voice behind, not being sure of how you want your voice to sound, and the frustrations along the way to finding your new voice. Therapy is typically once per week- there are individual and group sessions available. There are two therapy groups- one for beginners and one for higher level therapy. Both groups have individualized therapy components.

For more information, contact the Speech and Hearing Center at 202-994-7360

Idaho State University

Clinic Director Shauna Smith is in the process of implementing individual therapy sessions at the Meridian Health Services Center, where students can gain experience helping transgender clients. Services are provided throughout the semesters with a sliding fee scale for those paying out of pocket. These services are available to anyone. Professor Smith is also working on getting funding for group and telehealth services for transgender patients.

For more information contact the ISU Speech and Language Clinic Meridian at 208 373-1725 or ssmith@isu.edu

Illinois State University

The Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic has been offering individual and group sessions for transgender voice therapy since fall of 2017. Student efforts in a cultural diversity class led to an independent study project that led Mrs. Patricia Larkin and Dr. Lisa Vinney to explore making gender affirming communication services available at the clinic. This resulted in a grant funded by the College of Arts and Science for an interdisciplinary program that collaborates with the social work department to provide additional resources for more holistic care. Those running the program are also working on cross training modules between speech and social work so that this interdisciplinary approach can continue past the grant.

For more information contact the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic at 309-438-8641 or speechhearingclinic@illinoisstate.edu

Iona College

The Iona College Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic offers individual therapy to those looking to find their authentic voice. Sessions are 60 minutes and there is an income based sliding fee schedule available. Anyone can enroll in the therapy, which is administered by supervised graduate students.

For more information contact the Iona College Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic at 914-712-1991

Ithaca College

Since 2011, Ithaca College has been offering a Voice and Communication Modification program at the Sir Alexander Ewing Speech and Hearing Clinic at Ithaca College. Co-founders, Josie Zanfordino M.A., CCC – SLP a transgender woman and Mary Pitti M.S, CCC – SLP created this program in partnership with the LGBT Office at Ithaca College and the Planned Parenthood of Ithaca.

Under the supervision of a certified Speech-Language Pathologist, graduate students teach transgender clients vocal exercises and specialized techniques that helps them find an authentic voice. Voice and communication areas such as pitch, volume, articulation, and pragmatics, are addressed. Vocal health is emphasized. The sessions includes both group and individual components. The group meets once a week in the fall and spring semesters. Services are free to clients that make a commitment of attendance for the semester.

For more information contact the Ewing Clinic at 607-274-3714

Kansas State University

Faculty member Dr. Linda Hoag does research in the area of transgender voice and offers her services at the KSU Speech and Hearing Center. Services are currently provided in an individual format. There is a sliding fee scale for those who are not using insurance. Anyone can apply for therapy services, the best time to do so is before the start of the semester, but typically it isn’t difficult to get placements in the area of voice therapy because graduate students are in need of that experience.

For more information contact Dr. Linda Hoag at 785 532-1479 or lhoag@k-state.edu

Lamar University

The Speech and Hearing Sciences Clinic at Lamar University has a Voices in Transition specialty program for clients looking to find their authentic voice. They offer individual therapy, where clients meet with a graduate student twice per week. These services are available during the semester as part of graduate student field experience. Therapy is free. Those who are interested can reach out to the clinic to schedule a preliminary evaluation.

For more information contact Dr. Nandhu Radhakrishnan at nradhakrishn@lamar.edu

Mercy College

The Mercy College Speech and Hearing Center offers weekly individual voice therapy sessions for transgender individuals. Sessions are offered during the semesters and are administered by graduate students. Anyone can enroll in these sessions. In the past, 5 week packages have been offered during summer for $50.

For more information contact Dr. Shari Berkowitz at sberkowitz@mercy.edu

New York University

At the NYU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, graduate students provide services to transgender clients with the help of faculty members, including individual as well as group sessions where clients can come together and talk about their experiences and progress. Those in individual therapy can work with their clinician to create an appointment schedule, while group therapy meets once per month and is for both transgender men and women.

For more information contact the NYU Speech-Language-Hearing clinic at 212-998-5230 nyuspeechclinic@nyu.edu

North Carolina Central University

The NCCU Speech and Hearing Clinic houses a transgender voice clinic that is free to all clients and offers pitch and communication modification. For voice masculinization, there are individual services available, with the hopes that there will be enough interest to form a therapy group in the near future. For voice feminization, both group and individual therapy is available. Groups meet weekly and patients enrolled in individual sessions have one to two sessions per week. Treatment is offered by graduate students under the supervision of a licensed speech pathologist.

For more information contact Carolina Smith at 919-530-5118 or csmith300@nccu.edu

Northwestern University

Evaluation and voice therapy services are available to transgender people through the Northwestern Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning. Individual and group therapy are both available.  Therapy is administered by supervised graduate students.

For more information contact 847-491-3165 or nucasll@northwestern.edu

Old Dominion University

The Old Dominion University Speech and Hearing Clinic offers individual and group therapy as part of their Transgender Voice and Communication Program. For individual therapy, clients come twice a week for an hour. Depending on the number of interested clients, group therapy may be available as well. Therapy is offered during the semesters to anyone in the public, and the cost is $75 for the semester.

For more information contact the Old Dominion University Speech and Hearing Clinic at 757-683-4117

Pacific University

The Pacific Psychology & Comprehensive Health Clinic Offers transgender voice coaching. Therapy is offered in the form of one on one sessions through supervised graduate students. Those enrolled typically attend one therapy session per week. The clinic currently only takes Medicare insurance but provides an income based fee schedule for those paying out of pocket.

For more information contact the Pacific University Psychology & Comprehensive Health Clinic at 503-352-2400

Portland State University

The Oregon Scottish Rite Speech and Language Clinic launched a free public lab in October of 2018 for transgender and gender nonconforming voice therapy. The lab offers 9 weeks of sessions that are half one on one and half group. Everything from voice to articulation to breath is addressed to help participants find their authentic voice. This lab, run by clinical professor and SLP Jeff Conn, is available every school term.

For more information contact Jeff Conn at connjc@pdx.edu

Salus University

The Salus University Speech-Language Institute offers free individual therapy as well as the Raise Your Voice transgender support group. Individual therapy is held weekly and the group meets monthly on Saturdays. Anyone can participate in the group or take advantage of the individual therapy sessions. All services are provided by supervised graduate speech students.

For more information contact 215-780-3150

San Jose State University

The Kay Armstead Clinic offers a transgender voice clinic with the ability to provide precise feedback on progress through advanced technology. Therapy is offered to individuals in the form of a 12 week program with once weekly appointments that are given by supervised graduate students. All patients start with an evaluation. This is a free clinic that is funded through donations, participants are asked only to pay a $10 parking pass fee.

For more information contact the Kay Armstead Center for Communicative Disorders at 408-924-3679 or armstead-center@sjsu.edu

Southern Illinois University

The SIUE Speech-Language-Hearing Center offers voice evaluations and therapy to transgender clients. Individual therapy is offered twice a week by supervised graduate students. There are three sessions throughout the year- spring, fall, and summer. The spring and fall sessions are 13 weeks long and the summer session is 8 weeks long.

For more information contact the SIUE Speech-Language-Hearing Center at 618-650-5623 or slhc-information@siue.edu

St. Ambrose University

Through the Speech and Hearing Clinic, individual therapy is offered twice per week for 50 minute sessions. Clients enroll on a semesterly basis. Services are free as they are grant funded. Anyone can enroll in transgender voice therapy so long as a slot is available. Therapy is administered by supervised master’s students.

For more information contact the Interprofessional Health Clinic at 563-333-5865

SUNY Fredonia

The Youngerman Center for Communications Disorders offers individual transgender therapy. This therapy is administered by supervised graduate students. For students of the university, services are free of charge. Additionally, faculty member Dr. Bridget Russell researches transgendered voice treatment.

For more information contact the Youngerman Center for Communications Disorders at 716-673-3202 or communicationdisorders.sciences@fredonia.edu

Temple University

Transgender voice therapy services are offered by the Temple University Speech-Language-Hearing Center. Therapy is offered one on one for one hour per week on a semesterly basis. The clinic is free to anyone in need of services. Supervised graduate students conduct the therapy sessions.

For more information contact 215-204-7543

University of California San Francisco

UCSF Transgender Care offers voice evaluation and therapy services, focusing on gender related social communication patterns as well as vocal tone and pitch. In addition to voice services offered specifically by an SLP, UCSF Transgender Care also has surgeons and physicians that can help with other aspects of transgender voice if necessary- such as surgical intervention to alter voice or augmenting the appearance of one’s adam’s apple.

For more information contact UCSF Transgender Care at 415-885-7770

University of Arizona

Transgender voice therapy assessment and treatment is available at the University of Arizona Speech and Language Clinic. The evaluation is 3 hours. Therapy is offered in the form of individual sessions which occur for one hour per week. Therapy is administered by graduate students and anyone in need of these services can become a patient.

For more information contact the clinic at 520-621-7070 or SLHSClinic@email.arizona.edu

University of Connecticut

The UConn Speech and Hearing Clinic offers one on one therapy to transgender clients as a way to train their graduate students. When there is demand, group sessions are also available. Individual sessions are weekly and cost $35 per session. The program started in a simple way- someone called and asked for the treatment so the clinic started offering individual sessions. They start with an evaluation, then assess goals, then provide treatment. Some people travel significant distances for voice therapy at the clinic and as many as 2-12 clients have been helped at any given time.

For more information contact UConn’s Speech and Hearing Clinic at 860-486-2629 or Speech&HearingClinic@uconn.edu

University of Georgia

The UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic offers transgender voice and communication services. Supervised graduate students offer individual therapy to clients about once per week. Therapy is available to anyone, and those who need financial assistance may apply for aid.

For more information contact the UGA Speech and Hearing Clinic at 706-542-4598

University of Houston

The university Speech Language and Hearing Clinic’s voice evaluation and intervention program includes treatment for transgender individuals. Individual therapy is offered on a sliding fee scale on a semesterly basis, where the client will receive about 10 weekly sessions. Anyone can enroll in these services.

For more information contact the Speech and Hearing Clinic at 713-743-0915 or USLHC@uh.edu

University of Illinois

The university Speech-Language Pathology Clinic offers voice coaching for transgender individuals. Therapy is in the form of one on one sessions provided by a supervised graduate student. Session frequency depends on the client’s needs. A student discount is available for students at the university. The supervising SLP mentoring the graduate students offering the therapy is the only one trained in the area to provide transgender voice therapy services.

For more information contact the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic at 217-333-2205 or slpclinicreception@mx.uillinois.edu

University of Iowa

The Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center offers evaluation and individual therapy sessions for male to female transition voice therapy. Frequency of sessions starts at one a week and then increases or decreases depending on a client’s needs. There is a sliding fee scale available for those paying out of pocket.

For more information contact the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center at 319-335-8718 or speech-path-aud@uiowa.edu

University of Maryland

Transgender voice services are offered at the University of Maryland Hearing and Speech Clinic. Services include one on one therapy sessions, where appointment frequency may be once or twice a week depending on the client’s schedule. These services are offered during the semesters or over half of the summer and are administered by graduate students. Students of the university can receive the services for half price.

For more information contact the University of Maryland Hearing and Speech Clinic at 301-405-4218 or hespclinic@umd.edu

University of Memphis

Transgender voice development services are offered by the University of Memphis Speech and Hearing Center. Therapy sessions are one on one and meet about one a week, depending on the client’s needs. Therapy is covered by most insurances but there is also a client assistance program to aid those who are paying out of pocket.

For more information contact the University of Memphis Speech and Hearing Center at 901-678-5858 or MSHCadmin@memphis.edu

University of Minnesota

The Davis Center offers individual voice therapy, and group therapy when there is interest, for transgender clients. One on one therapy is typically weekly during the semesters but frequency is client dependent. Services are discounted for U of M students, and there is a sliding fee scale available for non-students.

For more information contact the Davis Center at 612-624-3322 or slhs@umn.edu

University of Montana

The DeWit RiteCare Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic offers transgender voice therapy services. Therapy is one on one and meets once or twice a week for 60-90 minutes during semesters, depending on client needs and schedule. Cost is dependent on insurance and therapy is administered by supervised graduate students.

For more information contact the DeWit RiteCare Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic at 406-243-2405 or RiteCareReception@mso.umt.edu

University of Nevada, Reno

The UNR Trans Voice and Communication Clinic provides voice therapy services to transgender clients. During the semesters, individual therapy is available. In the summers, those enrolled in individual therapy also have the option to meet as a group. Session frequency is 1-2 times per week. Recently, the clinic has been working with the VA to provide services to transgender veterans, which the VA is paying for. With ASHA guiding practices on coding and billing for reimbursement, the Trans Voice and Communication Clinic is proud to set a precedent for getting transgender care covered by insurance, when it so often isn’t. The clinic works with the university’s Transgender Allies Group, whose members provide sensitivity training to the graduate students administering the therapy.

For more information, contact the Trans Voice and Communication Clinic at 775-682-7016 or rwalden@med.unr.edu

University of New Mexico

The UNM Speech-Language-Hearing Center offers voice feminization individual and group sessions. Individual sessions meet as often as needed based on patient needs and schedule. The cost of these sessions is based on a sliding fee scale. Group sessions are weekly and cost $30 per session. UNM students get a 10% discount.

For more information, contact the Voice Feminization Group at 505-277-4453

University of North Dakota

The Northern Prairie Community Clinic offers transgender therapy services through supervised graduate student run individual therapy sessions. Typically, clients will attend twice weekly 50 minute sessions for the duration of a semester. This therapy is free for students, and there is a sliding fee scale available to non-students whose insurance does not cover the services.

For more information, contact the Northern Prairie Community Clinic at 701-777-3745

University of Oregon

The HEDCO Clinic offers a “Speak Up!” group for voice feminization that also takes time to explore transgender issues. This group meets weekly, and cost is on a sliding scale. Individual therapy is also available and is administered by graduate students.

For more information, contact the HEDCO Clinic at 541-346-0923

University of Pittsburgh

Transgender voice therapy is offered by the otolaryngology department at the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center. This service has been available since 2011 for those looking to find their authentic voice. The department also conducts research to improve outcomes for transgender persons looking to modify their voices.

For more information, contact the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center at 412-232-7464

University of Rhode Island

As of May 2017, a free voice clinic is available the URI Speech and Hearing Center to help transgender people find their authentic voice. The clinic offers several weekly sessions to those who need them, including individual and group sessions. This clinic was opened to address serious need for these services in the area, which previously were only as close as Connecticut and Boston.

For more information, contact the URI Speech and Hearing Center at 401-874-5969

University of Texas at El Paso

The Voice Brain and Language Lab offers a voice modification clinic for transgender individuals. Services are free and there are 16 graduate students available to work with clients. Dr. Patricia Lara is also researching transgender voice therapy outcomes at the clinic.

For more information, contact Patricia Lara of the Voice Brain and Language Lab at plara2@utep.edu

University of Utah

Transgender voice therapy is offered by the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. Therapy is offered through one on one sessions on a semesterly basis with a graduate student who is supervised by a speech pathologist. A sliding fee scale is available for those paying out of pocket.

For more information, contact the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at 801-581-3506

Western Michigan University

The Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic’s Voice Laboratory offers therapy for transgender persons. The therapy is individual therapy, which is usually once a week on a semesterly basis. All clients must get an evaluation before starting therapy. Therapy is $188 for the semester.

For more information, contact the Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic at 269-387-7000

University of Wisconsin

Clinicians at the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic develop personalized therapy plans for transgender individuals. Therapy is one on one and meets once or twice per week, depending on client, graduate student, and supervising clinician schedules. Those who wish to enroll can sign up by the semester.

For more information, contact the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic at 608-262-3951