When, exactly, do your vocal cords calcify?

Specifically, I’m referring to the calcification that occurs during early adulthood, not what happens later on in life.

I’m a transgendered man of 23. I’m on a 6-month waiting list to be assessed by a WPATH certified psychologist, after which (assuming I’m approved for it) I will get my first dose of testosterone within a month or two of my last appointment. The assessment period itself could take 1 week or up to 3 months, so I’m looking at from 8 to 11 months before HRT (hormone replacement therapy) begins.

Even though it can’t erase the evidence of an XX-chromosome puberty long past, testosterone does still do some really awesome things. My hips and butt will turn to belly fat or melt away. I will finally be able to grow facial hair. If I’m lucky, I might not be too old for my bones to thicken a little and make my whole shape look subtly more masculine. Even my face will change to better match my identity. Only one thing scares me witless.

I have read/heard that at some point in early adulthood, your vocal cords begin to harden, as in the cartilege slowly calcifies. After that, testosterone doesn’t deepen your voice as much as it otherwise would’ve. My problem is that no book, pamphlet or website has reliably told me WHEN the calcification process begins.

I did find 3 sources that briefly mentioned it. One said the entire process is finished by 20 (oh god no, please no, please don’t let that be true), another said it starts around 20 and ends around 25, and the 3rd said that insignificant amounts happen around that time but noticeable changes don’t occur until your late 20s/early 30s.

My voice is a huge source of dysphoria. Voice exercises and whatnot can only do so much, and for me they might do diddly squat. Every morning I wake up and have some kind of panic attack because my voice is one day older, one more day without HRT, one day closer to possibly never sounding masculine at all. If I had some clear idea of when calcification usually starts, I’d be a lot less anxious. Especially if I’m not already past that point, but even if I am, I’d rather know.

I’m no expert in testosterone treatment or in its effects on voice in adulthood.

Voval cords don’t normally calcify. The laryngeal cartilages often calcify to variable degree as we get older. This is a slow process and there is no exact date for this to happen for anyone. Such calcifications are very rare in young adults (<30), unless metabolic disorders are present. They are most commonly seen in middle age* and older.

You should take this concern off of your list of worries. In any case, you are doing all that you can for it. I suppose that they have not promised you growth of the larynx and voice deepening, perhaps mentioning laryngeal calcifications as one cause of failure of voice deepening? I’m thinking that they cannot promise you a fully satisfactory result in any case, and they are trying to manage your expectations (that is, maintain reasonable expectations).

*While I usually say that middle age = 10 years older than current age for all readers, in this case, I mean 40-50+. ;:slight_smile:

Here is a cite:

It indicates a lower age for calcification than I estimated, at least with regard to the arytenoid cartilages. With regards to voice deepening, I’d expect the thyroid cartliage is most relevant.

Oh gosh. Really? I mean, it almost sounds too good to be true that I’d have years left before needing to worry. Even if my post-HRT voice doesn’t turn out well, it will be easier to live with the disappointment if I know my age wasn’t the reason for it.

I haven’t a clue how to use PubMed, but if I understand what I read on that link correctly, then you’re right and I can chill out. I do wish I could read the whole article; it looks like there’s a more in-depth section on age differences therein.

In any case, thank you so much for responding. :slight_smile:

Good luck. Consider singing in the choir as a tenor or baritone. Choirs always need more guys.

Trans expert here,

I’ve known scores of transmen who went through this process, some at ages of 40+. I don’t confess to be an expert on the physiology of transmen’s bodies, nor the impacts of hormones (I’m a transfemale expert), but I state that in every single case I know of, except 2 (who were ironically quite young), their voice deepened considerably. As in went from “Bee Gees” to “Barry White.”

It’s also a lot easier to do voice training lessons to deepen your voice, rather than raise it.