My Voice Got Deeper. Suddenly, People Listened.

My feminist mother taught me to speak up. Now, as a trans man, I am trying to make space for women to be heard.

Thomas Page McBee
6 min readAug 17, 2018
Illustration: The New York Times

A few months after I began injecting testosterone, I discovered that one of the startling new privileges of my male body was that I could silence an entire room just by opening my mouth.

Despite the fact that my voice pitched baritone low, when I spoke, people didn’t just listen, they leaned in. They perched their heads in their hands and tilted toward me for a better angle. It was as if whatever I said, however banal, was surely worth that strain of a neck, or the hurried quieting of all other thoughts.

For me, a 31-year-old trans man who had spent most of my life in a body that was tolerated at best and ridiculed at worst, this was a shocking turn of events.

Before I transitioned, my short hair and men’s clothes frequently baffled people. When we think of trans people, we often imagine someone neatly journeying from one side of the gender binary to the other: woman to man or man to woman. But for me, it was a lot more nuanced.

I was a tomboy kid, a swaggering teen steeped in queer culture, then a masculine adult. I dated women, and my ex and I were once held at gunpoint by a…



Thomas Page McBee

Writer exploring the relationship between gender, culture, and history. Most recent book: Amateur (Scribner). Essays/reporting: NYT, The Atlantic, GQ, more.