How does the voice of a woman differ from the voice of man? You might think that pitch is the big difference, but according to speech pathologist James Dembowski, you would be wrong. And he should know — for the last year, he has been working with a middle-aged transgendered woman born as a boy, teaching ‘Ms. J’ to use her male vocal anatomy to speak in a womanly way. ‘She did not want a high-pitched voice or some kind of ditzy-sounding voice,’ says Dembowski, who will be presenting his work at a meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) next week in San Antonio, TX. ‘As a successful academic in a local university, she posed an interesting challenge. She wanted to sound feminine but not stereotypical.’ When boys reach puberty, rising levels of testosterone change the anatomy of their vocal cords, causing the voice to crack and drop. Older female-to-male transgendered individuals taking hormone supplements experience similar changes. But when a man decides to become a woman, his vocal anatomy stays fixed and old speech habits have to be unlearned. It’s true that men and women do tend to speak at different pitches — men […]

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