Transgender voices: A performance called Adam’s Apple

Senior Lecturer in Speech Pathology Dr Jennifer Read was involved in a production Adam’s Apple or Hush on at the Royal Exchange Theatre that celebrates voice and gender identity.

The dramatic piece and original song cycle is based on in-depth interviews with transgender people and their families conducted by Senior lecturer in Speech Pathology and Therapy Dr Jennifer Read.

Inspired by a radio producer who was losing their sight and whose friend was transitioning from female to male and wanted to witness the changes made when transferring sex – but could only hear what was happening.

Using her expertise, Dr Read has worked as the Scientific Advisor on the project for the last two years and helped demonstrate the way voices and language alter when people transfer between the sexes. To read more about the project here:

Working with dramatist Alex Bulmer, composer Errollyn Wallen and director Polly Thomas, Dr Read helped create a show to help people understand the changes associated with gender reassignment – both physically and psychologically – through the medium of sound.

Dr Read said: “It has been such a fascinating experience to work with talented people from the arts and to see how our research interviews and the technical aspects of voice production have been turned into lyrics and melodies that capture the real life experiences of those who have transitioned. The production aims to inform and entertain, and offers some true insight into the connection between voice and gender.”

The Wellcome Trust, Arts Council England and PRS for Music Foundation supported Dr Read’s research and subsequent production which is touring the UK over the summer launching at the beginning of June at the LIFT festival in London. It is an accessible and uplifting piece that makes some serious points about voices being heard.

A special performance at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester on Friday 7 June was a big success with a performance by the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus and four cis and transgender singers.