Intonation Parameters in Gender Diverse People

  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution of the first two authors.
    Tine Papeleu
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tine Papeleu Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent Belgium.
    1 Equal contribution of the first two authors.
    Center for Speech and Language Sciences (CESLAS), Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution of the first two authors.
    Clara Leyns
    Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tine Papeleu Corneel Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent Belgium.
    1 Equal contribution of the first two authors.
    Center for Speech and Language Sciences (CESLAS), Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Peter Tomassen
    Department of Head and Skin, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium
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  • Guy T'Sjoen
    Department of Endocrinology & Center for Sexology and Gender, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent Belgium
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  • Kristiane Van Lierde
    Center for Speech and Language Sciences (CESLAS), Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

    Faculty of Humanities, Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
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  • Evelien D'haeseleer
    Center for Speech and Language Sciences (CESLAS), Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

    Musical Department, Royal Conservatory Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 Equal contribution of the first two authors.
Published:January 15, 2023DOI:



      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.


      Speech samples of semistructured 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.


      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.


      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.


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