It’s Not Only What You Say. . . It’s How You Say It.

When working on voice and communication with transgender and gender-diverse populations, it’s important to align gender identity by working with both verbal and nonverbal communication. Are you familiar with these foundations?

  • KNOW THE BASICS: Sex is an individual's biological and physical attributes, such as chromosomes, sex hormone levels, and genitals. Gender identity is an individual's sense of being male, female, both male and female, or an alternative gender. Gender expression refers to characteristics in personality, appearance, and behavior that may be perceived as masculine, feminine, both, or neither. Sexual orientation and sexual preferences are separate and distinct from one's gender.

  • TALK THE TALK. Ask clients’ names and pronouns for presentation at work, at home, and in social situations. And use appropriate terminology demonstrating awareness and sensitivity to the client. You should also know what names to use for insurance purposes.

  • KEEP DOING YOUR HOMEWORK. You should proactively remain educated and up to date with terms that are still evolving and thus tend to become outdated and/or offensive quickly. Terminology changes, and it varies from person to person; thus, use in a manner that is appropriate, respectful, and sensitive for each individual client.

  • CHECK YOUR FORMS. Although many steps are being taken to keep up with societal changes, at present, many insurance forms and data collection forms still have underlying gender-binary bias. Understand that these forms can set a tone with your client before you even speak to them, and make changes where you can.

  • ENGAGE IN CONTINUOUS LEARNING. Speech-language pathologists who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has developed standards of care for health care professionals working with individuals who are transgender and gender diverse, including assistance on providing voice and communication services.

Learn more about providing voice and communication services for transgender and gender-diverse populations.