Romina Ramirez lost count of the occasions on which he has felt embarrassed by the tone excessively serious of your voice. The tranny uruguayan, blonde, 1.80 meters tall, he recalls in detail the day working as a stylist in a hair salon in Ecuador, a child of 4 years with the one that was messing around, son of a colleague, he asked without hesitation and in front of all present: “why do you have the voice of a man?”.
Don’t know where to hide the head while the child’s mother turned to explain to him that the tone of voice of Romina obeyed that were born in the country austral. The not-so-happy story strengthened the urge I had since the childhood of to get an alternative that allowed you to sync your feminine appearance with the voice.
“From the age of 15 I started to look for methods to change my voice, but the attempts were always in vain. Hence, it preferred not to talk much with people so I don’t feel embarrassed,”he said.
It is the best investment that a person in need can make
The search was intense and almost always fruitless, because it is always found that the surgery for feminization of the voice nearest to their country was done in Brazil, with a technique that consists in open surgery, the height of the neck to join at the larynx the thyroid cartilage with the cricoid cartilage, in order to keep the vocal cords stretched by two points of suture, which, over time, can yield and leave the tone as it was in the beginning.
The doctor who was
This procedure did not fill the expectations of Romina, until she realized, a few months ago that in Barranquilla, the otolaryngologist Antonio Ballestas Morales had specialized in a technique in europe that is known as Glotoplástia of Wendler, which is done by laparoscopy and guarantees excellent long-term results for patients.
The doctor, a graduate of the Free University of Barranquilla, who traveled to Costa Rica to specialize in Otolaryngology, under the auspices of the Panamerican Association of Otolaryngology, had a record of 19 female transsexuals operated and all with absolute success, which led to Romina decided to travel to the capital of the Atlantic, on the 22nd of march, from his native Cannelloni, spa 50 km from Montevideo. Had come the long awaited time to take that step in long journey that took to take hold as a woman.
“One day I realized the doctor Crossbows, I checked the results and I got in contact with him. After considering their quality professional and personal I didn’t think twice and I came to Barranquilla to get a voice line to my appearance. Before, he had not found anything similar in Latin america,” said Romina, office 403 of the Clinic of the Sea, in the north of Barranquilla, where it was valued before the surgical procedure, the past 25 of march.
Ballestas explained that his interest in the study of the various techniques of feminization of the voice started in 2014, after attending a congress in which they had experts from Europe and Brazil, a country where for two months he studied the technique practice there, and part of Argentina. But he chose not to use it because it is an invasive procedure that does not guarantee final results over time.
The concern was planted with force in the interests of the doctor Crossbows, considered a scholar of full-time and who holds a postgraduate degree in Microsurgery of the Ear with the ear doctor Michel Portmann, Bordeaux (France), and so began to make contact with a specialist in Belgium that, due to lack of time, could not collaborate with him in teaching the Glotoplástia of Wendler.
So she sought out Juan Carlos Casado, a pioneer of this type of procedure in Spain, with whom he trained in Marbella.
“Upon my arrival to Barranquilla, I suggested to the presenter and transsexual Telecaribe, Linda Yépez, to do the surgery. He accepted and today testifies to the excellent results. This time, my master Married attended as an observer. Since then I have operated on 20 people that have changed my life”, he says.
The ent doctor dares to ensure that the Glotoplástia of Wendler is not common practice in Latin america and much less in Colombia. Your thesis is confirmed with the fact that his patients have been women of the interior of the country, almost all of Latin America, even the united States and Mexico.
Of Colombia, in addition to Linda Yépez, whose surgery was reported by the american press and the european Crossbows has changed the voice of a woman from Boyacá, another of Popayan, two of Medellin, three of Bogotá, and an equal number of Cali.
Internationally, the health tourism in Barranquilla has been strengthened with the office visit of four women from EE. UU., one of Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Mexico. Romina put the share of Uruguay and on the waiting list to enter the operating room are 10 other women: two in Cali, two from Canada, one of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, two in Bogota and two more than EE. U.S. and one for Kuwait. These procedures must be performed before next August.
The surgery of feminization of the voice, with the technical Glotoplástia of Wendler, is mainly used in transgender women, who have changed their physical appearance external, through surgical and hormonal treatments, but your voice still having a tone male.
However, it can also be used in born women (has not been the case in the experience of leaf Springs), which have a tone of serious in his voice.
Ballestas explained that it is a procedure that is done through the mouth with a microscope, in a time that does not exceed the hour and a half of surgery.
Is to reduce the anterior third of the vocal cords, which in the case of the male are longer and wider than those of women.
To decrease them in size using electrocauterios, laser or radio frequency, it is possible for the voice to pass from grave to acute, allowing the patient to sound like a woman to talk to.The recovery is immediate and does not warrant more than a day of hospitalization, for reasons of safety, since the patient will make two stitches.
Before entering the operating room, Crossbows, check the strings of the patient to meet their fundamental frequency, which is the number of times they move per second the vocal cords, and that in men ranges between 100 and 150 times, while in women between 200 and 300.
“With jobs speech therapy we have to raise the Fundamental Frequency to more than 180 times per second. In the case of Romina, has it in a 125 and as we shall see, after the surgery, how he manages to be. I should emphasize that between a patient the more serious has the voice, the more surprising will be the results,” said the doctor.
Antonio Ballestas takes 20 surgeries of this type, and your clientele grows
After the surgery you must keep absolute silence, and then, for a period of between four and six months, in need of therapies of speech and language, than in Barranquilla are in charge of the expert Spray Neck Pantoja, speech pathologist graduated from the University of Rosario of Bogotá, with job grade score excellent on ‘vocal Technique of the speakers of the Colombian Association of Broadcasters’, specialized in rehabilitation of the voice.
Neck Pantoja explained that after determining the basic behaviours of the patient’s voice, when it was day two after surgery, your job is to coordinate, initially, exercises of respiratory for about two weeks.
“The patient must remain in absolute silence and then I am in charge of monitoring, during a half-hour daily, exercises to reduce muscle tension, strengthen the work of vibration of the strings to execute its function in accordance with the new larynx. They are also placed repetitions for the modulation and for the brain to get used to the new sound of the voice,” said the specialist.
In the case of patients who are not of Barranquilla, the therapies of recovery of the voice are made through the internet, via Skype, at first for half an hour and with the passing of the months in lower intensity.
Surgery that changes lives
Linda Yépez, the first patient of the doctor Crossbows, doesn’t change anything with your new voice. He said that his life is another after it has been submitted to the Glotoplástia of Wendler, mainly because you acquired more confidence when speaking in public. “I played impersonating the voice and I didn’t feel comfortable like my previous tone,”said Yépez.
The community activist LGBTI is the best advertising for the doctor. However, Crossbows opened the portal web www.voicefem.com, both in English and in Spanish where it explains the details of the surgery and the results that have obtained their patients.
The price of the procedure would not give details, but admitted that it is much cheaper than aesthetic procedures conventional. Soon it will operate at a trans-woman in the interior of the country that has managed, through a tutela action, that the health system will cover the procedure.
“This surgery has purposes unattainable because it goes by the recovery of the self-esteem of the people. We know that it is a community that is stigmatized and that for years has been the object of ridicule. Therefore, if we can contribute to the good things, it is the best investment that a person in need can do”, concluded Crossbows.
The results of the surgery number 20, of the uruguayan Romina Ramirez, will be presented by Crossbows at the Latin american Congress of Otorhinolaryngology and Surgery of Voice, in Punta del Este (Uruguay) is 19 and 20 may. These days, Romina, being local, you can head to a packed auditorium with his new voice: that both he sought, that of a woman.
ANDRÉS ARTUZ FERNANDEZ
A correspondent of THE TIME