The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has earmarked more than $200,000 to fund the development of a “transgender voice training” app to help biological men sound more feminine.
The initiative, spearheaded by the University of Cincinnati and led by engineering professor Vesna Novak, speech scientist Victoria McKenna, and speech-language pathologist Tara McAllister, is seeks revolutionize transgender voice training, as reported by Fox News.
With a grant totaling $213,873 in taxpayer funds, the three-person team will focus on enhancing “the accessibility of transgender voice training with visual-acoustic biofeedback.”
“Some trans people can be negatively impacted if their voice is perceived as incongruous with their gender identity, and they may choose to work with a speech pathologist to achieve a vocal presentation that is comfortable for them,” McAllister said.
“The staRt software allows learners to visualize the resonant frequencies of the vocal tract, which could make it easier to adjust them to match a target that is appropriate for their personal speech goals,” McAllister continued.
According to the project’s abstract, the software will undergo rigorous testing, including 40 “trans women” (biological men who identify as women) randomly assigned to either an experimental or control group.
Participants will engage in weekly meetings and assignments to evaluate the app’s effectiveness in achieving desired vocal changes.
Once the testing is complete the app will be available to transgender people and speech-language pathologists at no cost.
“The software will be released for free and thus immediately provide transgender people and SLPs with free interactive tools for gender-affirming voice and communication training (GAVT).”