I started testosterone December, 26th 2018.
Immediately after my very first testosterone shot I felt a strange sensation in the back of my throat. Think back to a time when you were about to get sick with a cold and there was a scratchy sensation in the back of your throat; that is the sensation I am referring to.
Now I do fall into that 3% lol. When the doctor says something will only affect 3% of ppl … that’s me lol. Since my first shot and every shot after it my throat gets scratchy in the back. I usually spend the following two days after my shot reminding myself not to clear my throat too roughly. Unless I actually am getting sick, it’s just the testosterone making my throat feel scratchy.
That is my personal experience, now onto the scientific stuff.
I am a singer. I sing professionally and for fun. Protecting my singing voice by introducing slow change was at the forefront of my decision to start a low dosage of T. As most of you may already know, T for most individuals will deepen your speaking and singing voice. For many ftm singers the unpredictable and irreversible nature of testosterone’s effects on the voice can be a terrifying prospect.
The larynx, or voice box, is a hormone-dependent organ. In teenage boys, increased testosterone production causes the vocal folds (vocal chords) to thicken, lengthen and mature. The cartilage of the larynx grows, further influencing the tone of voice. It also tilts slightly, resulting in a bump on the throat—the Adam’s Apple. This is a process that happens over time as the teen matures.
Testosterone therapy makes the vocal folds grow thicker but they are restricted in length by the size of the larynx. The larynx in trans men is usually smaller than the larynx of cis gender men. Cartilage growth is said to only happen during puberty, and early cartilage ossification caused by testosterone further limits the growth of the trans male larynx.
One of the most common characteristic among FTM’s or non binary trans individuals is “entrapped vocality.” The symptoms are persistent hoarseness and the inability to access and control certain areas of vocal range. These symptoms can be attributed to an inadequately enlarged larynx, due to age and the early onset of laryngeal cartilage ossification. (In some people, this ossification actually improves their singing voice, as the “hardened” larynx is better able to support the vocal folds.)
If you are experiencing difficulties with your singing voice or fear what may become of it, I recommend working with a vocal coach. YouTube can be a valuable, free source of knowledge on how to grow and developed with your changing voice.
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You are wonderful, you are valid and you are an important part of this world. Thank you for existing.