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4 common questions (and answers) about voice dysphoria and gender-affirming voice therapy

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How you communicate is an important part of life. If you feel like your voice doesn’t align with your gender identity or gender expression, it can lead to feelings of dysphoria or a general state of unease. Gender-affirming voice care can help. Below, we outline four common questions our Gender Care Clinic patients have for their doctors.

1. Is it possible to change my voice?

Yes. The Nebraska Medicine Gender Care Clinic offers several services to help people develop more gender-specific voice and communication styles. These services include:

  • Gender-affirming voice training – This type of nonsurgical intervention can help modify the gendered aspects of a person’s voice, ideally helping achieve maximum flexibility
  • Laryngology – A laryngologist, also known as an ear, nose and throat doctor or ENT, offers interdisciplinary evaluation and interventional voice services designed to meet the individual needs of a person who is transitioning
  • Speech-language pathology – A speech-language pathologist who specializes in gender-affirming voice and communication training can help individuals find their voice by addressing factors such as pitch and communication style
  • Surgery – Performed to change pitch, surgery is used as a last resort because it causes scar tissue on the vocal folds

Prior to undergoing any gender-affirming service, you should be evaluated by an ENT doctor to assess for any voice impairments that need to be addressed.

The ENT doctor will check:

  • Pitch – How high or low your voice is, measured in hertz (Hz)
  • Intensity – How loud your voice is, measured in decibels (dB)
  • Resonance – How your sound waves reverberate in your head/neck (This isn’t a quantifiable sound, and it can be subjectively described as brightness in the voice)

Depending on your goals and the current flexibility of your voice, our team will work with you to identify the best course of action. After your assessment, the ENT doctor can refer you to a voice care specialist.

2. What kind of doctor should I see for gender-affirming voice care?

ENT experts, also called otolaryngologists, and speech-language pathologists can help.

The following specialists provide gender-affirming voice care through our Gender Care Clinic:

  • Christopher Bingcang, MD – Dr. Bingcang is board certified in otolaryngology and completed fellowship training in laryngology and professional voice
  • Jayme Dowdall, MD – Dr. Dowdall is board certified in otolaryngology with fellowship training in laryngology and professional voice
  • Amber Koch, MS, CCC-SLP – As a certified speech-language pathologist specializing in voice and upper airway disorders, Koch offers gender-affirming voice services at Lauritzen Outpatient Center and Village Pointe Health Center

We know that seeing a new health care provider can be a stressful situation for anyone, but this burden is especially felt by the LGBTQA+ community. You may have concerns about discrimination or being misunderstood. You don’t need to be worried about that when seeing a Nebraska Medicine health care provider. The experts supporting our Gender Care Clinic work with LGBTQA+ people every day. And Nebraska Medicine is designated as a 2022 Leader in Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign. We’re committed to providing affirming health care and continually working to remain a health care home for everyone.

3. Are gender-affirming voice services covered by health insurance?

Although gender-affirming services are increasingly recognized as medical necessities, insurance coverage often differs among providers. The short answer is to check with your insurance provider to see what they will cover.

4. Do I need a referral for gender-affirming voice services?

Anyone can refer themselves to the Gender Care Clinic, but most insurance companies require a referral from a health care provider.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 800.922.0000.

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