A Pennsylvania university is offering a monthly support group for transgender individuals.
Salus University in Elkins Park recently created “Raise Your Voice,” a space intended to provide the transgender community an opportunity to practice different techniques related to voice and other gender-specific communication skills.
“‘Raise Your Voice’ provides a supportive space where members of the transgender population can learn the science behind voice modification in order to gain techniques, and practice with people who are seeking similar goals,” said Judy Koza, a certified speech pathologist and group facilitator.
The group is a powerful community asset, she added, as it will facilitate communication among those who share similar stories and backgrounds in a safe environment.
“We are offering individual therapy, as well as the group, free of charge in this unique university setting to encourage use of voice techniques and nonverbal communication strategies, as well as supporting a social forum for the transgender community,” said Koza.
The speech pathologist has experience facilitating support groups and assessing and treating voice disorders and differences among varied populations, including the transgender community.
The support group, also open to graduate students, held its first meeting March 17 and will continue to run 11 a.m.-noon the third Saturday of each month.
The gatherings are held at the Speech-Language Institute of Salus University and “provide a learning aspect for our students that is invaluable,” said institute director Bob Serianni.
Serianni said Koza “has developed this group to meet the needs of a traditionally underserved community,” noting that transgender voice assessment and intervention is a specialty in the field of speech-language pathology.
Max Saegar is a Salus University speech-language pathology (SLP) student who attended the first “Raise Your Voice” meeting. He’s scheduled to graduate in 2019.
“I was honored to take an hour out of my day to listen to and speak with a member of the transgender community, hear her story and provide an open forum to talk about both the successes and hardships that she has faced since coming out,” said Saegar. “I gained new knowledge of the SLP’s role in treating members of the transgender community and how therapy and counseling can impact the lives of transgender people.”