Spectral analysis of strident fricatives in cisgender and transfeminine speakersa)

Nichole Houle, Mackenzie P. Lerario, Susannah V. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spectral features of /s/ and /ʃ/ carry important sociophonetic information regarding a speaker's gender. Often, gender is misclassified as a binary of male or female, but this excludes people who may identify as transgender or nonbinary. In this study, we use a more expansive definition of gender to investigate the acoustics (duration and spectral moments) of /s/ and /ʃ/ across cisgender men, cisgender women, and transfeminine speakers in voiced and whispered speech and the relationship between spectral measures and transfeminine gender expression. We examined /s/ and /ʃ/ productions in words from 35 speakers (11 cisgender men, 17 cisgender women, 7 transfeminine speakers) and 34 speakers (11 cisgender men, 15 cisgender women, 8 transfeminine speakers), respectively. In general, /s/ and /ʃ/ center of gravity was highest in productions by cisgender women, followed by transfeminine speakers, and then cisgender men speakers. There were no other gender-related differences. Within transfeminine speakers, /s/ and /ʃ/ center of gravity and skewness were not related to the time proportion expressing their feminine spectrum gender or their Trans Women Voice Questionnaire scores. Taken together, the acoustics of /s/ and /ʃ/ may signal gender group identification but may not account for within-gender variation in transfeminine gender expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3089-3100
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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