The National Institutes of Health (NIH) approved a research grant in November for over $200,000 to create an app that helps men who identify as transgender sound like women.

The grant, first reported by The College Fix, was approved in November 2023 by the NIH’s Deafness and Other Communication Disorders department and will be run by Vesna Dominika Novak, a transgender associate professor at the University of Cincinnati. The NIH approved $213,878 in funding from December 2023 to November 2024 so Novak’s team can create a smartphone app to train biological males who identify as transgender “women” to speak like women, according to the project details.

“Transgender and gender diverse people exhibit a significantly lower quality of life than the general public,” the abstract of the grant reads. “One reason for this is voice dysphoria: distress because a person’s voice does not match their gender identity (e.g., trans women with deep voices). Reducing this voice-gender incongruence can improve quality of life, but is difficult to achieve … One way to provide more accessible GAVT would be through smartphone- or computer-based software that delivers information about voice, suggests exercises, and provides feedback on exercise performance.”

The abstract also argues that going to speech therapists is “time-consuming [and] costly,” and that there aren’t enough who specialize in “gender-affirming voice and communication training (GAVT). Once completed, the app will include “visual-acoustic biofeedback” to tell the user how their voice sounds and then suggestions on how to make it more feminine.

For the study, 40 biological men identifying as transgender will use the researchers’ “prototype” app and meet online every week, according to the grant. The researchers will prescribe “homework” during the week with ranging levels of difficulty.

“Self-reported amount of daily practice (primary outcome) as well as self-reported self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation scores will be compared between groups. Upon completion, the project will result in the first GAVT software that combines visual-acoustic biofeedback of pitch and resonance with structured exercises – highly requested but currently unavailable features of such software,” the abstract reads.

The NIH and Novak did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Kate Anderson on February 2, 2024

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