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Differences and Similarities in the Perception of Voice Gender for Individuals Who are or are not Members of the LGBT+ Community

Published:December 02, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2022.11.020

      Summary

      Purpose

      Compared to transgender individuals, cisgender men and women perceived “male” and “female” voices differently when using a forced-choice task with binary terms. Here, we compared individuals’ perceptions of voice gender due to the influence of their own gender and/or sexuality using a rating scale rather than a forced-choice scenario.

      Methods

      Fifty-five participants (cisgender, transgender, and non-binary adults) listened to vocal recordings of four cisgender men and four cisgender women speakers (some recordings were pitch shifted resulting in 12 unique voice conditions) and rated the voices on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from masculine (1) to feminine (7). Likert ratings and reaction time of responses were recorded and analyzed. For a small subset of recordings, participants provided terms to describe the gender of the recorded voices.

      Results

      For the Likert voice gender rating task, there was a significant effect of gender for two out of twelve conditions. There were no significant effects of sexuality on any of the conditions. For reaction time (RT), there was no significant effect of gender for any conditions. There was no significant effect for sexuality when one subject was removed (for one condition). The number of vocabulary terms used to describe gender was significantly higher for LGBT+ participants, who used significantly more descriptive terms than those who identified as cisgender and heterosexual.

      Discussion

      Cisgender heterosexual speech-language pathologists working with transgender/non-binary clients can be more confident that their conceptualization and perception of voice gender are likely to align with that of their clients. Clinicians should utilize continuum terms (masculine, feminine) rather than the binary terms (male, female). Training of speech-language pathologists should include increasing awareness and knowledge of the perspectives and terminology used by members of the LGBT+ community with the aim of improving future clinician-client communication.

      Key Words

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