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Gender as stylistic bricolage: Transmasculine voices and the relationship between fundamental frequency and /s/

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 April 2017

Lal Zimman
University of California, Santa Barbara, USA


Despite the importance of gender differences in the voice, sociolinguists have not paid sufficient attention to the sociolinguistic processes through which phonetic resources are mobilized in the construction of a gendered voice. This article argues that gender differences in the voice—including those influenced by physiology—are best understood as elements of sociolinguistic style rather than static properties. With a focus on transgender speakers in the early stages of masculinizing hormone therapy, the analysis demonstrates the complex interrelationship of the gendered meanings attributable to characteristics like fundamental frequency and /s/. Trans speakers challenge systems for categorizing voices as female or male, which assume that different aspects of the gendered voice will pattern together in normative ways. Yet a voice's gender is not a unidimensional feature, but a cluster of features that take on meaning only in context with one another, leaving them open for recombination and change through stylistic bricolage. (Transgender, style, gender, voice, pitch, sibilants)

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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