In making his transition from male to female, Bruce Jenner has put a lot of effort into his skin with injectable lip and face fillers botox, surgically minimizing his adam’s apple, breast enhancement, and many other physical changes. But the one important change that he has neglected is the sound of his voice, the content of his speech, and adopting a more feminized body language
Having taught countless transgender clients in my practice who went from female to male how to sound like a man and male to to male transgender clients how to sound like a woman I would love to be the one to help Bruce make these changes so that he could feel more secure and confident in his new gender role. In fact I want to personally reach out to Bruce through this blog to let him know that I can help him with establishing a more feminine voice, speech patterns, as well as a more female body language .
After all, if I could help Dustin Hoffman sound like a woman for his Dorothy character in his award winning performance of “Tootsie” I can definitely help Bruce Jenner.
After it was publicly known that I was the one who helped Dustin to sound like a woman, transgender clients from all over the country sought out my services to help them make that vocal and body language transition which would help cement their identity in the opposite sex and allow others to perceive them as more feminine (or masculine for those seeking a female to male transition).
My experience in helping the transgender population began when I was doing my Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At the time the University of Michigan Medical Center was one of the few places in the world where people came for gender reassignment surgery. So in order to assist these patients with their total image, they were often sent to the University of Michigan Speech Clinic.
Unbeknownst to me, I was assigned one such patient- a lovely woman with long dark hair and exotic features. My first task was to do a complete speech and vocal analysis of this woman. I wrote up a very detailed report for my professor and mentor, Dr. H. Harlan Bloomer about the woman’s low pitched voice, her pitch range, and diction and how she presented herself. Because the patient had such a limited pitch range and a low voice, I wrote up a differential diagnosis in her report that she may be suffering from vocal cord trauma or may have some vocal cord growths which may attribute to her vocal issues. While Dr. Bloomer said he was impressed with the detailed analysis of my report, he said I missed something very crucial. She was actually a “he”.
I must say that I was surprised as I had never known anything like this.Dr. Bloomer said that my task was to make her sound like a woman. I immediately went to the Medical Library to find out all I could about how to do that, but there were no books or articles on the topic. There was an obscure book that was written by a Harvard linguistics Professor but it was very academic and didn’t tell what to do. So I tried to figure things out by the seat of my pants and at the end of our six week therapy sessions, my client sounded like a woman and very few could detect that she had been or sounded like a man months earlier. Because of my success with this client, I was the one who was given all of the transgender patients who needed to change their voice and speech patterns to match their new sexual identity.
After graduating from Michigan and getting my doctorate at the University of Minnesota where my focus was now in the area of medical genetics and psychosocial aspects of speech, voice, and cosmetic appearance in patients with cranial facial deformities, I then went to UCLA School of Medicine and did a post doctoral fellowship, doing research in the area of birth defects and associated speech and voice disorders in the area of Medical Genetics. It was there that I really was able to hone my diagnostic skills in assessing people from head to toe, which was instrumental in my present incarnation as a voice and body language expert.
One evening, I took a break from my post-doctorate studies and my research and accepted an invitation to my first Hollywood party. A far cry from the world of academia where I spent so such time, it was so was so exciting and refreshing to me to see all of these glamorous and beautiful people who had so much to say about themselves, telling me about all the acting roles they got, and the next movie I would see them in. Then it came my turn to share what I did. I also shared my experience with them of working with transgender clients when I was in graduate school. A film producer overheard what I said and asked me for my card. I didn’t have a card back then so I wrote my number down a on a piece of paper.
A few days later, I got a call from a person whom I didn’t know who told me he was a director and that his friend at the party I attended gave him my number. The director then told me there was someone he wanted me to meet to help him sound like a woman and that I had to come to an address in Westwood (not too far from UCLA) the next day at the specified time. But there was one important thing I had to know- that I couldn’t tell anyone where I was going and what I was doing. As a naive 25 year old I enthusiastically agreed to it and showed up the next afternoon. As I walked up the long winding stairway to the front door, I began to feel a bit anxious and wondered what I got myself into. I knocked on the door and who should appear? None other than Dustin Hoffman. In the weeks and months that followed I taught Dustin everything I possibly knew about gender differences in communication. I shared with him everything I learned from working with the transgender clients at the University of Michigan.
Years later I wrote a best selling book about gender differences in communication called He Says She Says, Closing the Communication Gap Between the Sexes and went on the speaking circuit where I spoke to thousands of people on the topic. I also did the TV talk show circuit on the topic. Understanding how differently men and woman communicated with one another helped many couples learn to better relate to one another. It also helped avoid many misunderstanding in the workplace where men and woman now learned the nuances of communication with the opposite sex.
More business women learned how they needed to get to the point quicker, and not answer a question with a question or go up at the end of sentences, while more businessmen learned that they needed to use less command terms and take up less physical space when dealing with women. In fact there were 103 differences that men and women needed to be aware of to help them better communicate with one another.
So back to Bruce Jenner. Having worked with so many transgender clients, I truly feel for Bruce. I know the emotional pain these clients have been in all of their lives. I know how they have been teased and emotionally abused. I know how many of their friends and relatives will never speak to them again when they go through the transition. I also know the very dark side of this transition process and that is that 60 percent of those who undergo the transition become so depressed afterwards that they commit suicide. It is shocking and it is scary as they find that life in their new gender doesn’t cure all of their past issues and in fact, may create more issues than they had before.
Bruce may be one of the lucky ones in that he seems to have a good family support system with his mother and two sons for sure and perhaps step daughter Khloe.It seems that his younger daughters with Kris, Kylie and Kendall are having a hard time with it. Kyle’s acting out and dating a 25 year old when she is 17 may have something to do with her ambivalence towards Bruce. The last thing Bruce needs now as he makes his transition is badmouthing from Kris. This could play havoc on his psyche especially now that he is on hormone therapy. That is why he needs to cut ALL ties with her and hire a great PR person to defect any poison PR arrows Kris may shoot at him in the media. Kris may use this opportunity to play the victim- that she had no idea about his desire to become a woman. Know that no one can live with someone for 20 something years and do business with them and share intimate moments with the person and not know something. This is not about Kris. It is about Bruce and Bruce’s PR minions need to keep making that very clear.
Bruce’s role in the recent traffic collision where his car hit a woman who was killed must also be weighing heavily on his mind. The fact that he is coming out in front of millions of people is also a Herculean task. Not everyone will embrace him. People will be mean as they have been already. With some, Bruce’s transition, threatens their masculinity and angers them for what he did.Many looked up to Bruce as a great athlete and Olympic heros.They still may want to see him this way and now when they see him looking like a woman and wearing women’s clothing, it upsets their psyche. Many will become angry because they don’t want to see him this way. Many religious people will think what Bruce did was wrong and will let him know about it. Many will call him a freak,
But Bruce is not a freak. He was feeling like he was in the wrong body for his entire life as he admitted. Perhaps that was why he could endure the punishing workouts that allowed him to become an Olympian. Perhaps he so wanted to be be seen as masculine at the time that he overcompensated. No matter what, Bruce is at a very crucial time in his life. He needs a lot of emotional support and a lot of strength.
I am here to support Bruce through my skill set as I am reaching out to him with the intention of helping him to have more confidence and credibility in his voice, speech patterns,and body language as he ventures out in the world as a woman.