Group voice and communication therapy for trans individuals: The reciprocal benefits of involving student volunteers in delivering care.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Voice and communication therapy has traditionally been delivered to trans and gender non-conforming individuals at Gender Identity Clinics (GICs) and voice clinics. Trans individuals report difficulty accessing local speech and language therapy, as therapists did not feel confident to deliver such care. This has led to significant waiting times, an additional stress for clients (McNeil, Bailey, Ellis, Morton and Regan, 2012). Trans people are often socially isolated and potentially face significant negative reactions when transitioning gender. Trans individuals experience a high level of mental health difficulties and are often unlikely to be able to afford expensive private care. Clients are vulnerable to confusing, inappropriate or potentially harmful voice and communication advice via social media and video-hosting sites made by well-meaning, but ill-informed peers.

The LGBT Foundation is a Manchester-based charity. Significant efforts have been made by the charity to include trans people by adding the term to its name and developing a dedicated Trans Programme. The charity received many requests for speech and language therapy, as there is no GIC in the Greater Manchester area.

The University of Manchester has developed a trans voice and communication course in partnership with the LGBT Foundation as part of social responsibility activity. This course is delivered on a voluntary basis by pre-qualification speech and language therapy students trained and supervised by a senior lecturer. The Trans Programme staff provide students with trans awareness training.

The twilight course offers care in a group setting with students and trans clients in partnership. The course consists of four, ninety minute weekly sessions on how the voice works, vocal hygiene, and how conversational partners perceive gender differences. A follow-up intensive course of four, ninety minute sessions over four consecutive evenings is then offered. This provides objective and subjective assessment as well as evidence-based care.

Up to 35 trans clients have attended the introductory group sessions. Twelve clients are offered a place on the following intensive group. Both trans men and trans women have attended the groups, as well as gender non-conforming individuals. All found the group therapy format acceptable and would recommend the course to other trans people.

Outcomes for students included an increase in skills for working with trans clients. All would recommend volunteering to their peers, and the experience made them more likely to want to work with trans clients in the future. This is crucial if more therapists are to assist in supporting trans clients post-qualification. Between fifteen and twenty students have taken part in each group session.

This model, rather than provide an alternative to NHS care, has supplemented that care. The LGBT Foundation Trans Programme sees the intervention as part of their offer to clients in Greater Manchester.

Three key learning outcomes for your submission
Learn the advantages of a group model of therapy delivery for trans and gender non-conforming individuals
Understand the benefits to students in being involved in voice and communication therapy for trans individuals
See how volunteering and social responsibility activity can enhance the student experience and forge links with charities for vulnerable groups

Brief outline of submission for the conference programme
Trans individuals reported difficulty accessing voice and communication therapy outside Gender Identity Clinics. The University of Manchester and the LGBT Foundation, a local charity, have collaborated to provide advice and group therapy, involving student volunteers. Outcomes for both clients and students are discussed.

Three key words to describe your submission



McNeil, J., Bailey, L., Ellis, S., Morton, J., and Regan, M. (2012) Trans Mental Health Study 2012. Scottish Transgender Alliance, Trans Resource and Empowerment Centre, Traverse, Sheffield Hallam University and TransBareAll. Available from:

Clinical education
Mental health
Additional Info
Submission category: Audit/service evaluation
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2017


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