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Program helps transgender woman find the voice that fits who they are

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Sunday marks International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day many people show their support for the transgender community. KYW Newsradio caught up with a program that supports and works with transgender women throughout the year.

“Sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they break into a prism and form a rainbow. A rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors,” said Erica Cirulli.

For three semesters, Cirulli did voice exercises like the “Rainbow” poem at Temple University’s free student run speech clinic for transgender women, as she transformed her voice to a more feminine sound while transitioning her body.

“One thing we focused on is adjusting my pitch to be high enough to both sound and feel comfortable for me, and for those that I was talking to, to make it sound like it was my voice, not just a female  but that it matched my body,” Cirulli said.

She says the program did wonders for her voice and self-esteem.

“In order to present the way I wanted to present I knew that my old voice just wouldn’t do,” she said. “It was extremely deep.  It was at the lower end of the male range, as far as pitch goes.”

Maria Dicindio, a graduate student clinician with the program, says a lot of work goes into helping the women get the voices they are looking for.

“We work with some nonverbal communication characteristics as well, things like moving at the elbow rather than moving at the shoulders, body positioning,” she said.

Cirulli says the program was an invaluable component to her transition.

“To be able to feel comfortable with how I sounded — it meant the world to me,” she explained.

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