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J Voice. 2014 Mar;28(2):203-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jvoice.2013.08.009. Epub 2013 Oct 2.

Intonation and gender perception: applications for transgender speakers.

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Department of Speech and Hearing Science, The George Washington University, Washington, DC. Electronic address:
Department of Speech and Hearing Science, The George Washington University, Washington, DC.


Intonation is commonly addressed in voice and communication feminization therapy, yet empirical evidence of gender differences for intonation is scarce and rarely do studies examine how it relates to gender perception of transgender speakers. This study examined intonation of 12 males, 12 females, six female-to-male, and 14 male-to-female transgender speakers describing a Norman Rockwell image. Several intonation measures were compared between biological gender groups, between perceived gender groups, and between male-to-female (MTF) speakers who were perceived as male, female, or ambiguous gender. Speakers with a larger percentage of utterances with upward intonation and a larger utterance semitone range were perceived as female by listeners, despite no significant differences between the actual intonation of the four gender groups. MTF speakers who do not pass as female appear to use less upward and more downward intonations than female and passing MTF speakers. Intonation has potential for use in transgender communication therapy because it can influence perception to some degree.


Feminine; Gender; Intonation; Perception; Transgender; Transsexual; Voice

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