Lynne Murdoch felt at home living at St. Paul’s University College in her first year at UWaterloo where she heard about GreenHouse. Although the chemistry student didn’t exactly have an idea for a venture of her own, she decided to apply to live at GreenHouse.
In her first term, last fall, she began exploring a venture to make university feel even more like home: bringing rescue animals on campus to offer socialization for the animals and stress relief for students.
Along the way, however, she discovered obstacles and logistical problems. While it was still a project she would be keen to pursue as a “pet project,” she concluded, “I should probably think of doing something else.”
She began thinking even closer to home: about the challenges she personally faces as a transwoman. Two key issues trans people face are clothing and voice. Lynne recognized she wasn’t particularly interested in fashion or sales, but also that she had experienced a sizable gap between free and professional voice therapy options for trans people wanting to retrain their voices to match their presented gender.
As part of the GreenHouse course (SVENT 225), Lynne began exploring this idea in earnest. Within several weeks, she had found partners and interested clients, and had developed a plan for the venture, VOYHS (Voice Outside Your Head Space), which she describes as “focused on improving lives of trans people through speech therapy with an accessible subscription-based platform anyone can use at any time.”
Together with her partners she developed a prototype version of the app and was a finalist for the Velocity Fund, as well as receiving funds after pitching the project to the Ministry of Seniors and Accessibliity and to GreenHouse’s Social Impact Fund. This summer, VOYHS plans to get a public version of their app available for testing and use.
Lynne says, “Trans people run the risk of being hurt by being heard, but I wouldn’t have even started on this venture if GreenHouse wasn’t there. To any prospective student I would say this is a place where you can explore any idea. And if you don’t have an idea, you soon will because it’s such a supportive community. That’s probably the most valuable thing about GreenHouse.”