OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS : Although intonation is often addressed in speech training for gender diverse individuals, the relationship between intonation and femininity/masculinity ratings remains unclear. The aim of this study was to examine differences in intonation parameters in gender diverse individuals. Moreover, the relationship between acoustic intonation parameters and femininity/masculinity ratings was investigated.
METHODS : Speech samples of semi-structured speech were elicited from cisgender (cis) (107 ciswomen, 104 cis men), transgender (trans) (19 trans women, 10 trans men), and non-binary (n = 11) individuals using a prosody protocol. An objective acoustic analysis was performed to compare intonation parameters (upward/downward/flat intonation shift, general and final intonation shift, general fundamental frequency range, fundamental frequency variation index) between groups. In addition, a listening experiment was conducted, consisting of a cis and gender diverse listening panel (n = 41). The listeners were asked to rate the femininity/masculinity of speech samples (n = 57) using a visual analogue scale. Correlational analyses were used to examine the relationship between intonation parameters and femininity/masculinity ratings.
RESULTS : Similarity was found in the intonation parameters of participants with a similar gender identity. In non-binary speakers, no significant differences in acoustic intonation parameters were found between these speakers and the cisgender speakers. In addition, no significant correlations were found between the acoustic intonation parameters and the femininity/masculinity ratings in the groups with cis men, cis women, and non-binary participants. However, moderate to strong significant correlations were found between acoustic intonation parameters and femininity/masculinity ratings in the trans participants.
CONCLUSIONS : Intonation is a “speech marker” that distinguishes between groups with a different gender identity. No relationship was observed between intonation and femininity/masculinity ratings for cisgender and non-binary speakers. However, the significant relationship between these parameters for transgender participants (trans men and trans women) provides evidence for intonation exercises in gender affirming voice, speech, and communication training, and therefore contribute to evidence-based intonation training in transgender persons.