A college in Indiana hosted its second singing conference focusing on transgender vocalists. The “Transgender Singing Voice Conference” held at the end of March 2019 was sponsored by Earlham College’s Center for Social Justice, its Center for Global Health, and its School of Religion.
“The second biannual Transgender Singing Voice Conference, aimed at supporting gender-diverse people in the pursuit of their literal and figurative voice, is a two-day, multidisciplinary, research- and practice-oriented event,” Earlham’s website states.
The conference was slated to include sessions for transgender singers, but it also served as a conference for music teachers and others as well:
This event welcomes those who support the transgender and nonbinary people from a vocal and/or musical perspective – music educators, voice teachers, speech-language pathologists, music therapists, bodywork practitioners, etc. – as well as providing events and resources for transgender people.
We hope to foster collaboration in ongoing research, inspire initiatives in education, and better equip educators and providers as they help their transgender students and clients achieve their vocal goals. General sessions on terminology, etiquette, and legal information will also be provided.
The conference was founded in 2017 by Earlham adjunct Danielle Cozart Steele. “Trans people often find that they are experiencing dysphoria around their singing and speaking voice, so we’re offering the kind of tools for making the transition easier and for accessing a voice that feels truly and deeply authentic for that person,” Cozart Steele said.
Conference organizers requested submissions of musical works that were either about transgender issues or were written by transgender composers. “One unique feature of this year’s event is that organizers are soliciting musical scores by, for and about trans or non-binary issues,” Earlham’s website explained.
Cozart Steele noted that, “Earlham’s choirs will be there to help us read through these pieces,” and she also said that, “We’re encouraging trans composers or someone who wishes to honor the trans experience to compose a piece on those themes.”
WYSO reported that the conference “brought together about 200 music educators, composers and transgender and non-binary singers from all over the U.S.”
There was no cost for students and those unable to afford registration fees: “Registration is free for students and anyone for whom cost is prohibitive, $50 for eligible young professionals and $100 for all other professionals,” according to Earlham’s site.
Some of the sessions listed in the schedule included:
- “Transmen in the Choir: Singing a New Voice Part”
- “Training the Transfeminine Singing Voice”
- “Transmasculine Singers at Historically Women’s Colleges”
- “Key of T: Testosterone and the Transgender Singing Voice”
- “Singing Across and Beyond the Binary”
- “Trans-Affirming Worship Service and Hymn Sing”
- “Transgender Choruses: Creation, Management, Purpose, Direction, and Repertoire Creation”
- “Singing to Myself: Toward a Non-Binary Philosophy of the Voice”
- “The Dysphoric Musician: Sharing Stories of Gender Affirmation Through Music Performance”
- “My Friends, You Got Treble: Creating a Gender-Affirming Vocal Ensemble”
- “To T or not to T? The Life of a Transitioning Musical Theatre Performer”
- “Non-Binary Voices in Musical Theatre”
- “If Our Spirits Can Sing: Trans and Queer Perspectives on Religious Music”