As in, Christian “I-Gargle-Thumbtacks-and-Vodka” Bale, Batman. (I quoted that nickname from somewhere I can’t remember.)
A lot of people would argue that Bruce Wayne was actually Batman’s alter ego, not the other way around. That he put on the mask and changed his appearance to become his true self, and in acting like the normal person everyone expected him to be, he was hiding the unusual person that society would reject him for being, but the truer person, nonetheless.
FTM metaphors aside, sometimes I feel like I must sound like him.
I’ve got two voices. One is the “Bruce Wayne”, I’m-living-in-the-gender-I-was-assigned-at-birth voice. It’s a ridiculous, flutey soprano that I can’t stand. If I was given the choice to change only ONE thing about myself genderwise, that would be it because I can pretty much deal with everything else without medical intervention.
The other voice probably sounds kinda like Christian Bale with throat cancer. I try to make my voice sound naturally deep, the way I expect it would sound if God hadn’t been high on crack the day I was born and handed me the wrong set of vocal cords like he did. But you have to really push it to cover up a voice like the one I have, and sometimes I think I just come off sounding totally cheesy. Still, it’s the voice I choose when I’m with people who know me and understand why I sound like I have laryngitis. Both voices feel fake to me, one just fits better.
So, the question is, what do I do when I finally get around to posting my transition on Youtube? I’ve been watching a lot of transition videos, looking for transguys to chum up with (most of these guys haven’t started on T yet), and here’s the thing. It’s hard to admit to it because it makes me sound like a total jerk. But I’ll click these videos, and most of the time I’ll think “Shit, this guy looks great! I wouldn’t even know he was trans if it didn’t say so!” …until they start to talk.
It makes me wince how huge a part of the male presence the voice is. When a guy starts talking with the voice of a girl, at least for me, it VISUALLY pushes them at least 3 out of 10 points back over to the female side of the scale. It doesn’t change my opinion of them as guys, but it just shows how deeply wired the voice is as a gender cue, and every time I see a video with a guy who still has the wrong voice, I think, “That’s going to be me. I know I’m a guy, and other trans guys will know I’m a guy, and the people who really know me will know I’m a guy, but for just about everyone else, I’m going to be completely invalidated the second I open my mouth.”
It’s enough to make me think I should use voice changing software when I post something online.
But here’s the other thing. I made the decision a long time ago that I was going to show visually and clearly all the aspects of my transition from day 1 forward. Some trans people probably think that showing stuff from the “before” life is sick and twisted and undignified and feeds into a social stigma about trans culture. Some are just uncomfortable with it because they feel it invalidates their current status as male or female to people who wouldn’t understand. Other people like to do it because it connects them with their community, educates people, or just feels more honest. Any reason to share or not share your background or transition is just as valid as another and I’m not one to argue any of these points.
Personally, immaturely, I just think it’s interesting.
Aside from being one the hardest things in mine or anyone else’s life (for those not educated, the suicide rate for trans people rests at a staggering 31%), the actual medical aspect of transition is astounding to me. I think that it’s absolutely breathtaking that medical science is so advanced that, for example, we can inject some compound for a few months and slowly watch our body rearrange itself into the way it’s supposed to be. It is truly a modern miracle, and as for myself, I just want to share that miracle with the world.
But back to the voice thing. It’s the only thing that really makes me uncomfortable, even around other trans guys, and if I really want to show the pure change that T will afford me from day 1, then I’m going to have to use my real voice, at least at first. That, of all things, scares me.
Would Batman be afraid to use his Bruce Wayne voice, for fear of being found out? Would his world crumble?