The November 2016 issue of Choral Journal included an article written by Jane Ramseyer Miller titled “Creating Choirs that Welcome Transgender Singers.” This was adapted and revised from the California ACDA newsletter. There has been much conversation about the topic of gender as it relates to choral music classrooms, and some of this was discussed in the November 2015 issue of Choral Journal with the feature article by Joshua Palkki, “Gender Trouble: Males, Adolescence, and Masculinity in the Choral Context.”
Jane Ramseyer Miller’s article on transgender continues this discussion and is intended to assist choral music educators with their task of making choir a safe and welcoming space for all singers. Whether or not a conductor personally agrees with a singer’s decision to transition between genders, it is the teacher’s job to support students where they are, being a safe place for expression and guidance, specifically when it comes to our voices.
As part of the article, Miller shares 12 tips for making chorus more welcoming for all students, specifically transgender. A few tips are below, and you can read the full article by clicking here (note you must be a member of ACDA to read the Choral Journal online).
- When posting for singer auditions, keep language about voice parts gender neutral.
- Invite all singers to audition for any solo that fits their vocal range.
- Use gender-neutral language in rehearsal and insist that all section leaders and singers also follow these same guidelines.
- Assign voice sections for each singer dependent on their voice range and voice color rather than gender. If a singer is transitioning, check their range every 3-4 months and assist them in moving to a new vocal part as needed
- Examine requirements mandating gender-specific concert attire. Forcing singers into gender-specific (or incongruent) clothing may be seen as a public devaluing of identities and communicates indifference to the spectrum of gender identity and expression.
Do you have any tips to add? Have you had an experience with a transgender student in one of your choirs?