January 13, 2015

A Statement About My Voice

I had a new episode of Skeptoid release recently, and it’s happened again: I’m getting shitty comments about my voice. I have been misgendered.  I have been told I don’t sound “natural.” I have been compared to one of the Venture Brothers. In short, let’s just say that this week has not been a good one for my dysphoria.

To those put off by my voice: I’m sorry that my voice isn’t able to sound like a cis woman’s voice. It’s not a cis woman’s voice, and so far I have failed in my attempts to make it sound like a cis woman’s voice. Voice training is difficult and so often feels futile. Everything I do in life gets judged to impossible-to-meet cis standards, and my voice is one of the worst in terms of my transition so far. It’s a tell I can’t seem to do anything about.

But you know what? It’s my voice. Stop shaming me for it. Your standards are cisnormative and transphobic, and if you don’t like my voice I invite you to read the transcript of my episodes and kindly keep your comments to yourself.


  • Out of all the people who have been hosting, with the possible exception of Blake Smith, your voice is the most natural and conversational. I look forward to more episodes.

    • I appreciate the compliment. You’ll hear me again in March (we’re on a 7-week cycle) but all the episodes between now and then are excellent.

  • Hi. I looked you up specifically to find out what was happening to Skeptoid, (a favourite podcast of mine). There seem to be a number of new voices, yours amongst them.
    Rather than being in any way turned off by your delivery, I was intrigued and delighted that Brian had seemed to have sourced aclassically trained actor with professional skills.
    Keep it up. I’m great encouraged by the raise in standards!

    • I’m not sure if I’m detecting a note of sarcasm in there or not, but I will err on the bright side and just say I’m glad you’re enjoying things.

  • I heard the episode, and while the content was good, your voice was very distracting. I understand your discomfort about it, but your explanation just doesn’t make sense. It’s not a cis-woman’s voice, and it’s also *not your voice*. You are speaking unnaturally to make your voice sound different than your real one. All of us, male or female, can speak in a range of registers, but we have a natural middle comfortable range. And yours on the podcast sounded instantly artificial. If you’re proud of your “real” voice, then just use it.

    • With all due respect, Vertebrate, it sounds as though you’re speaking from a position of cis privilege, where your voice is a non-issue and you’ll likely never be misgendered because of the way you sound. If I were simply able to use my “real” voice without fear of being misgendered, disrespected, insulted, or worse, I probably would; unfortunately, the world sucks and so I’m forced to navigate the choppy waters of transphobia and general Internet nastiness.

      If you’re interested in understanding the issue a little better, I recommend this article for a start:


  • In a world where hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children are being slaughtered by followers of militant Islam, I find your concerns about how you sound and what people think of you somewhat self-absorbed. and absent of a balanced perspective.


    • This blog is, has been, and will continue to be a personal one, with an emphasis on my experiences as a transgender woman. Atrocities going on halfway around the globe are certainly tragic, but neither personal journal blogs nor creative poetry blogs not any other kind of blog end just because those things are happening.

    • Good argument, let’s ignore lesser problems because of starving children i Africa. What are you doing to help the victims of militant Islam? As if you give a shit..

    • Ron,
      I’m afraid I need to jump on the Alison bandwagon here. This blog is about Alison’s personal life, voice included. Alison is a multi-dimensional human being, and as such, chooses to share her day to day life in the form of this personal blog. If she chooses to talk about what she ate for dinner, mascara brands or kitty litter, this is absolutely the venue for her to do so.

      If you are interested in her views on skepticism or views on world events, than by all means, read her academic papers.

      For you to dictate what she types on her personal blog, is self absorbed!

  • I completely understand how you feel Alison! The one thing that we would want to change with us defies us. I am called “he” on almost every conference call I am on, ands that’s been a daily thing for the last 5 years. Some though are completely respectful, others not. I am embarrassed for those who can’t be respectful.
    Although I disagreed with some of your Ancient Aliens broadcast, I am a new fan of yours. Looking forward to the next episode you present. You go girl!

    • Thanks for listening. Honestly, I would love to know which parts you disagreed with; I know my argument isn’t 100% foolproof, but like everyone I am sometimes blind to the flaws.

  • I looked you up, too because of the voice. I assumed you were trans before searching, and my first thought was to try to focus past the sound of your voice, because it’s only fair.
    It’s distracting, because I feel like I’m hearing an effort to “pass”. This instant interpretation is likely something I absorbed sometime before I had a chance to fully think about it.
    I can easily imagine a world just around the corner where this suspicion will become obsolete.
    Your voice is unusual, a little confusing maybe in an extraneous way that will nonetheless haunt you, and definitely fully expressive, focused, and over all smart and cute at the same time.

    • That was certainly a very nuanced critique, and I thank you for taking the time to offer it. Especially the last part. 🙂

  • Pffff. Everybody’s gotta sound like something.

    Honest truth: listening to the “Ancient Astronauts” episode made me curious, because your voice sounds as it sounds. So I looked you up. Found out you’re a trans woman. Said to myself, “OK, I see.”

    More honest truth: I’m more curious about what kinds of games you review. What kinds of games do you review? QUENCH MY THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE!


    • I review mobile games, though that job is winding down (every game is freemium crap nowadays). But I *play* tabletop games, as you sussed out. 🙂 D&D and Pathfinder mostly, though I’m open to everything from Catan to Warmachine.

      • Pathfinder?! NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooo…..!

        Well, aces! Tabletop is totally my thing. Like it was my job, or something…but it’s not.

        (I used to work with a guy who became all kinds of important at Privateer Press. When he was whatever-it-was-that-he-was-there, he’d trade Warmachine figs for Catles & Crusades stuff with the Troll Lord Games dudes, at GenCon, and give it to me. I’VE GOT CONNECTIONS.)

        So what do ya think of the new D&D thing? And, yeah, freemium crap, blaaarrrgh. Though I gotta say, “Pixel Dungeon” and its branches are pretty swank…

        • I’m a big fan of Fifth Edition. It’s not perfect but it’s better than Fourth and different enough from 3.5/Pathfinder that I can enjoy both for different reasons. I was a DM for the launch at Gen Con and the enthusiasm for the new edition was palpable.

          • Ooops! I just now saw your reply! I’m terribly sorry!

            I played a very, very little bit of Fifth, and found it acceptable. My preferences are for 2nd and the RC, but in my opinion -and it’s only that and nothing more- the best edition of Dungeons & Dragons is —

            [dramatic pause]

            Castles & Crusades.

            I can justify this statement, but maybe it’s best left as an opinion and nothing more.

            How about other stuff? You play other stuff?

  • The idea of what men and women are “supposed” to sound like is so silly to me. When we have women like Sylvia Browne with deep, gravelly voices, who the hell is anybody to tell you that you don’t sound like a woman? Men and women sound like anything and everything, and every voice is authentic as long as you feel authentic using it.

    • To be fair, Sylvia Browne got her voice from decades of chain smoking 😀 . But I appreciate what you mean.

  • As a professional singer who has had to deal with issues of voice placement (spoken and sung), I empathise with your process. One’s voice is so wrapped up with one’s identity, so personal. And when your voice is involved with your public work, the outside judgment can be overwhelming. Many people seem to have great difficulty in understanding the concept of the spectrum – the true diversity and complexity of life, people, events, time… in all their shades and graduations. We humans have such a hard time not thinking in a dualist/binary way…
    I am cisgendered, so I won’t pretend I “know what your going through”, but I do think that discovering one’s own voice is a lifelong process (both figuratively and literally), and I wish you strength and courage on your journey. And thank you for your thoughtful and eloquent contributions to Spekoid. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Hi Alison, I listened to your Skeptoid episode about Marijuana yesterday and found it to be very interesting, well-written, even-handed and informative. The sound of your voice, and my own mental speculation about your gender (coming from my perspective as a middle-aged male), were slightly distracting/intriguing for just about 30 seconds or so. But then the content itself captured and held my full attention for the duration of the episode. Don’t let these naysayers and armchair critics discourage you. Skeptoid is an educational/informative podcast, it’s the info that counts. I hope you get the chance to do many more Skeptoid episodes. Best regards from the not-so-narrow minded South.

  • I looked you up *because* of your voice. I heard you sign off your marijuana podcast as Alison and it caught my attention.
    I listen to podcasts to help me relax at night before sleep. Just discovered Skeptiod this evening. I found your voice easy to listen to and engaging enough to stay with for the entire podcast.
    While I’m aware there was something that caught my attention when you said Alison, it was an intriguing element, not a detracting one. I like your voice and find it a pleasant instrument for scientific reporting and education. I’ll be listening in for you on future podcasts. Keep it up. You have a new fan.

  • Allison, please take this in the context it is ment. You do not have a Radio Voice. I find it unlistenable at x1.5 speed, which I listen to all Podcasts at. I have to read your articles. I find you to be a excellent writer and do enjoy your work.


    Mark D.

    • I think that is a valid criticism. FWIW, I find all of the joy in working with Skeptoid in the research and writing; recording is nothing but anxiety and do-overs. If I could hand off my scripts to another host for reading, I would happily do so!

  • I hope you find this comment positive, because it is meant to be.

    I came here from Skeptoid. I noticed your voice right away and wondered if you were TG. I checked (because the article was not the one about transgenderism) and was pleased that I was correct. I was pleased because of my own awareness and knowledge, not because of any failing on your part in the least. I’m like that. I want to be sure I pay attention and notice things (to live an aware life).

    I always try to make a mental image of who I’m listening to and I like the image to be accurate. That’s one of the reasons I love when people put their own pictures on forums and websites. I do certainly understand when they do not, however.

    That being said, I like your Skeptoid reports and articles. Now that I’ve found your blog I intend to follow it. I don not find your voice anything at all to be shamed for. Shame on anyone who complains or makes you feel bad.

    I find your voice distinctive and I know right away who is reporting when I hear it. I like that. By all means, if you want to keep working on it, do so, but I hope it stays as distinctive and yours as it is now.

    • Thank you for the kind comments. I don’t necessarily mind that people “read” my voice; I’m not ashamed to be transgender. I just never liked the lousy comments some directed my way. However, since writing this post, I’ve more or less given up on changing my voice. It is mine, and it is me, and I’m glad that some people, at least, enjoy it. 🙂

      Sorry it took so long to approve; I’ve been moving URLs and some comments got misplaced in the transfer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *