Trans actor to pioneer groundbreaking voice-change surgery after missing out on TV roles

Emma Powys Maurice
·2-min read

Trans actor Nicole Gibson will be one of the first in the UK to undergo pioneering vocal cord surgery after being turned down for roles because of her deeper voice.

Gibson, whose TV credits include the BBC’s Silent Witness, began her transition a decade ago but fears that her voice is still holding back her career.

She plans to change this next month with a groundbreaking procedure that will use a laser to remove lining at the front of the vocal cords, altering the pitch.

“My voice holds me back for parts I want to play,” the 39-year-old told the Daily Mail, recalling how her confidence “plummeted” when asked to speak in a recent Eastenders audition.

“The sound that comes out of my mouth is not what I hear in my head. When I want to play a woman, my voice lets me down.

“I know sometimes you watch television and think every diversity box is ticked, but I don’t want to be a tick in the box. I don’t want to just play trans roles.”

The one-hour keyhole surgery leads to a shortening of the vibrating section of the vocal cords which in turn raises the pitch.

As she prepares for the surgery Gibson must avoid laughter, coughing and sneezing for a full month and will not be able to speak for a week afterwards.

The £5,000 procedure will be performed by consultant surgeon Chadwan Al Yaghchi, an ear, nose and throat consultant at London’s Charing Cross Hospital and the Imperial College NHS Trust.

While many trans women are comfortable without the need for feminisation surgery, Gibson says the result will be “life-changing” for her as she anticipates the boost in confidence for her career and personal life.

“For so many trans women it’s all about the lower body and breast surgery. That is easy to hide or fake, but you can’t hide sounding like Brian Blessed,” she said.

“I just know the operation is going to be life-changing. I really do.”