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Voice Therapy

Phone Call

After two short rings, the gruff voice of an aging man answered. “Hello?” He sounded hesitant, clearly wary of the unfamiliar number.

“Hey, Dad,” Randy spoke quickly, resting the phone on his shoulder as he rummaged through his carryon bag. “Can you get Mom to check the old password book? I can’t get into my bank, I always had it autofill on—”

“Who is this?” His father snapped. “Are you one of those scammers? Why are you trying to get passwords?”

Pausing, Randy straightened, underwear in hand. “Dad,” he sounded the word out carefully. “It’s me. It’s Randy.”

“Randy?” The aggression in his father’s voice was suddenly disbelief. But only for a moment. “Uh-huh. And what’s your middle name?”

Smiling, Randy tilted his head back to look at tiny recessed lights dotted across the ceiling like stars. “Townsend James, after both of my grandfathers, if you’re going to ask.”

Silence lingered on the other end, suddenly broken by a husky laugh. “Randy!” The disbelief in his father’s voice lit up, fuzzy and warm in Randy’s heart. “Boy, I think your voice is deeper than mine!”

Barking a laugh, Randy couldn’t help but look around self consciously. All these people on their way to Christmas mornings and Hanukkah nights, to snowmen in New York and ugly tank top parties in Florida. All these people, asleep, half-asleep, wishing they had decided to spend the holidays at home, uncaring that he was floundering under the weight of such a compliment.

“I don’t think it’s that deep, Dad,” he cleared his throat, trying to ease the hopeful fluttering choking him. Was it that deep? He’d always loved his father’s voice. It was like thunder. A soothing night storm when Randy was a kid and would fall asleep to his stories, how it could roll across the whole ranch when he got into his folk songs, how it boomed when he would break off into that unstoppable laughter. It’d been a dream of Randy’s when he started testosterone that his voice would drop off into that thunderous bass after the first shot. Then the sixth, he just had to be patient for second puberty. Maybe the fifteenth would work its magic? Almost two years on testosterone hadn’t worked it down to where he’d felt comfortable, let alone to the depth he craved. It’d been hard to speak on the phone when he left for college, to hear the feedback of his own voice. Everything had been texts until today.

“Oh, well I certainly think it is,” his father chuckled, his voice suddenly muffled and distant as he called out to someone, “Hey! Randy’s on the phone, c’mere!”

“Dad!” Randy sighed as his stomach growled, suddenly remembering why he’d called when the warm fuzzies evaporated.

“Randy?” His mother’s voice came through, concerned and tight. She always assumed the worst, and maybe this time, he was grateful for that.

“Mom, hi—”

“Oh my word, Randy!” She gasped before falling into laughter. “Good gracious, you sound just like your father did when we met!”

“Doesn’t he?” He could hear his father in the background, imagine him hanging around his mother’s shoulders to lean his ear closer.

“Yes, my voice is very deep,” Randy cradled the phone to his face, as though that would hide his embarrassment. “Mom, I need my pass—”

His mother’s laugh caught him off again, high and tickled with disbelief. “I swear, just like you, Mark!”

“Mom,” Randy sighed into the phone.

“Oh, baby, I’m sorry,” her voice stayed warm and pleased. “I’m just so happy for you. What do you need?”

“I need my passwords so I can get something to eat while this layover drags on.” Randy glanced back at the line of restaurants behind him, their lines finally starting to thin out. “I had to buy a cheap new phone, I left mine in Alaska.”

After a little babying from his mother, an overpriced bowl of beef and broccoli, and a red eye flight to Texas, Randy was finally home. Home to his GranGran Edna telling him how he actually sounded like PawPaw Townsend, how the man he never met would live on through his grandson’s voice. He was asked to say grace that night, everyone sang a little softer when they all gathered in the living room with guitars and fiddles, and no one seemed to run out of questions to ask him to keep listening to his voice.

Halfway through another round of O Holy Night, the eggnog finally got to his Aunt Brenda.

“You know what we should do?” She asked, sitting herself up on the couch. “I know it’s not Thanksgiving, but we should all say somethin’ we’re thankful for.” All eyes turned to Randy, as discreetly as they could.

“Okay,” Randy shrugged with a grin. “I’ll go first. I’m thankful for voice therapy.”

Story submitted anonymously to

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Emiko Lee, Writer

Emiko (Emi for short) loves to write about issues in gender. She researches and writes stories and guides the support, uplift and share trans voices and trans lives. She has 2 ferrets (Wilbur and Lulu) who make her days wonderful and horrible, and loves coffee more than water!
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