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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Hegemonic masculinity and the variability of gay-sounding speech: The perceived sexuality of transgender men

By Lal Zimman, 2013

Sociophonetic inquiry into sexuality and the voice has often focused on the perception of men’s sexuality on the basis of disembodied voices. However, inconsistencies across these studies limit our ability to unite their findings into a cohesive model of gay-sounding speech. This paper focuses on variability among gay-sounding speakers by analyzing the voices of female-to-male transgender in- dividuals, or trans men. Trans men who make use of testosterone typically expe- rience a significant drop in vocal pitch, yet may maintain stylistic traits acquired while living in a female social role. An acoustic and perceptual analysis of trans and non-trans men’s voices reveals that even as trans men may be perceived as gay-sounding, their sociolinguistic styles also differ from those of gay-sounding non-trans men. These findings support the notion that gay-sounding speech does not constitute a single phonetic style, but rather numerous deviations from the hegemonic norm.

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