From conversations and experiences I've had over the years, and particularly while running a pop-up choir for Trans Pride South West, I've come to the idea of running some exploratory singing groups for trans and non-binary people.
Our voices are frequently gendered while out and about, and singing voices can be particularly so. As a result of this, it is harder for trans folk to find safe spaces in which they can discover what their voice is capable of without the shadow of cis-normative and binary expectations. More and more research is showing the value of group singing to our mental health and wellbeing; I want this to be available also to the trans and non-binary community.
Setting up the choir I had lots of people express an interest in singing with others, but not wanting to perform, or not feeling able to. These vocal exploration groups won’t be about performing, but about experimenting and playing with our voices, finding out what amazing (maybe including what amazingly ugly!) sounds we can make using our bodies.
These groups are therapeutic, in that we will be exploring something closely intertwined with our sense of self. As a music therapist I am trained in running therapy groups, and holding spaces that are safe enough to experiment and play. I imagine there will also be an element of knowledge-sharing and skill-sharing: shedding light on bits of music history that queer cis-normative or plain simplistic narratives (castrati and trouser roles, anyone?), and awareness of looking after our voices.
Without writing much more, I hope I’ve outlined that there is demand for this sort of group, and a sense of the direction it will take.
Depending on feedback from the community, it could be the project includes a choral component too. This will give further opportunities for trans and non-binary people to access the benefits of group singing, and the community of a choir, in a group that may feel safer and more welcoming.
It’s important to me that people can pay on a sliding scale so the project is affordable regardless of economic circumstance. At the same time, I want to be creating something which is also sustainable for me by paying myself fairly.
I am envisioning a 10-week course of sessions with up to 10 people in the group. The success and learnings of the first group will hopefully feed into further groups in future.