A transgender voice coach in Saanich is volunteering her time to help transgender people all over the world find their voice.
“I do more free work than I do paid work and the reason I do that is because I really just want this to be accessible to as many people as possible,” explains Jess Gibbard of TransVoiceCoach.com. “Most of my clientele are off the Island and a lot of them are from all around the world.”
Jess began her own journey in December of 2020, when she came out and had to try and find her own voice.
“It’s really important for trans people like myself to find a voice that feels more comfortable, that doesn’t put us at risk out in public to be able to pass more like the person we want to be,” she says.
“Trans-phobia is a real risk that we do face day to day and having our voices match the person we’re appearing as is really important to us.”
Like many people transitioning, Jess didn’t have the money for coaching and she says she couldn’t afford to wait a year for the TransCare BC Program, so she taught herself.
“I spent a lot of time studying how resonance works in singing,” says Jess, who’s a musician and replied on her musical background.
“I learned that the human voice is very similar to a bottle. If you were to blow air over the top of a bottle, it would produce a pitch and the more air that is available in the bottle, the lower the pitch is going to be when you blow air over it, and so the human voice, the more air that’s available in the resonance chamber, the lower the tone will be—even if the tone produced is the same pitch.”
Jess can easily demonstrate the difference but explains it can take months of work for people to become comfortable using their new voice in public and happily dedicates her time to helping others from her basement studio.
“Volunteering is a really important thing for me with this voice training just because, like myself, there are many other people who otherwise can’t afford voice coaching,” she says. “It’s such an integral, vital aspect of who we are as person. Having the voice that is your voice, it’s an unparalleled feeling and it feels really nice being able to make a difference like this.”
“Growing up, I always wanted to have a job where I could directly make an impact on people’s lives, Jess adds. “Words can’t really describe it, it’s unreal.”