- For years, the voice of Bernie Wagenblast has echoed throughout New York City’s subway lines, making it a staple of the city’s experience.
- Wagenbrust, 66, who now lives in Cranford, New Jersey, is coming out as a transgender woman and beginning to transition socially.
- She worked with a speech therapist to develop a more feminine voice, but she still plans to use her “male voice” professionally.
“There is a Downtown Local 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall approaching the station.”
For any New Yorker or tourist, the voice of Bernie Wagenblast echoes throughout the Big Apple’s numbered subway lines, telling commuters when a train is approaching the station or how far away the next one is. I’ve heard it told.
Wagenblast, 66, of Cranford, New Jersey, is a major part of New York City’s subway system, but commuters rarely name or face the deep voice projected across the platform. is not.
Wagenblast, who currently does announcements for the Airtrain at Newark Liberty International Airport and the PATCO system in South Jersey and Philadelphia, has come out as a transgender woman.
She first announced her transition decision in December 2022.
Estrogen doesn’t change the depth of a person’s voice, so after watching a speech therapist develop a female voice, she now sounds a lot different, admitted on Anna Sale’s podcast. death, sex and money That she still uses her “bodyless” voice professionally.
“Since January 1st I’ve been using only this voice full-time,” Wagenblast told Sale, who officially appeared on December 28th. Most of my conversations were in what I called my man’s voice, and professionally I still use that voice.”
Wagenbrust said in an interview that he remembers being four years old when he began to realize that he felt more like a girl than a boy.
“I distinctly remember being at my grandmother’s house sitting in front of the dressing table and putting on the necklace. I think she put powder on the dressing table and put it on my face,” she said. said.
“It felt good. It felt natural. I felt like, ‘Why can’t I do this?: ‘”
She doesn’t remember when it was instilled in her that boys shouldn’t enjoy them, but “quite quickly realized this wasn’t good.”
When I was little, when I was playing with a girl friend who lived across the street, she suggested we change clothes. Her friend’s brother then told her parents, who reiterated to Wagenblast’s family that this was “unacceptable.”
She first shared her identity as a transgender woman with a teacher from a nearby town named Paula Grossman.
Wagenblast found her information in a phone book, sent her a letter, and then arranged to call her at a payphone half a mile from her home.
“I made a time, I sent her my phone number and she called me and for the first time I was telling someone how I was feeling, talking to someone who understood how I was feeling.
“And I have to give her a lot of credit because I was underage and she was taking risks,” she said.
She later told her college girlfriend about her identity, and their relationship ended soon after. The next person she shared it with was her soon-to-be wife.
“It was clear that I was going to ask her to marry me, but I felt she needed to know about this part if I was going to. , I’m going to have to live with this to some degree,” she said on the podcast.
She took her then-girlfriend to Liberty State Park in New Jersey and shed “tears” for fear this would be the end of their relationship. He said he loved me.”
“She told me it was okay for us to deal with this. This wasn’t the end of our relationship. At the time, the couple had only been dating for a few months.” It was much better than I expected.”
They have three children, and Wagenblast separately shared her secret four years ago.
“All three of my daughters are married, so we had separate conversations with each. but at that time there were no plans for me to transition or change my appearance.
“It was about letting them know that I was struggling all the time and wanting them to recognize it. If something happened to me, I didn’t want them to hear this indirectly.” I didn’t want them to be given the chance to talk to me about it, ask me questions, and really get to know their dad on a deeper level.
Wagenblast began to transition socially shortly thereafter, first beginning hormone therapy, then buying androgynous clothing, and finally legally changing her name to Bernadette.
“I made what I consider to be a fairly slow but intentional transition, and started changing things here and there,” she said.
“One of the first things I did was put the least amount of hormone replacement therapy possible in the hope that it would probably be enough and calm me down. Just knowing that they exist makes me feel a lot better.
Since the transition, Wagenblast has opted for shoulder-length blonde hair and continues to work on making her voice more shrill.
Wagenblast has tried to use her new voice “increasingly” to make it “more natural,” but for now, she continues to use the sweet tone she is known for in subway announcements, recording used when asked to Fresh audio tailored to Newark’s new airport terminal.
She said it was “strange” to record new announcements in a “male voice”, but found it “much easier” to switch between the two voices now.
The MTA, which operates the New York City Subway, supported its employees on social media and shared a link to the podcast on its Instagram account, writing: If you take our numbered subway line, you’ll hear her announce the arrival of the train!”
On the way to record the podcast, Wagenblast stopped at a subway station and “heard the recent sounds”.
“It was a little loud,” she laughed. “But in New York you have to say it out loud so it can be heard above all other noise.”
Wagenblast’s voice was on the air in the ears of New Yorkers long before her voice began to be heard in subway tunnels. I started my career in media.
“Not only was it on the air in New York, but I was on two stations in New York during driving hours when most people are listening. [the] wireless. So being in a situation like this is a dream come true,” she told Sale.
Ever since she was in fifth grade, she wanted to be a broadcaster.
As a child, she would “pick up a newspaper and read it aloud to try to develop such a voice”.
My voice started to deepen, and I welcomed it. she said on the podcast.
When asked if she was worried about her voice dropping, she said, “Unfortunately, I felt like I had to live my life as a man.” rice field.
“So having a deep voice was the best way to move forward and do what you love.
While subway announcements and her other professional work remain her “male voice,” Wagenblast has been known to use her female voice in her work on Transportation Radio and Cranford Radio. I will explore