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Zimman, Lal

Grant Type: 
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Colorado, Boulder, U. of
Status: 
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
October 13, 2010
Project Title: 
Zimman, Lal, U. of Colorado, Boulder, CO - To aid research on 'Talking like a Man: Identity, Socialization, Biology, and the Gendered Voice among Female-to-Male Transsexuals,' supervised by Dr. Kira Hall

LAL ZIMMAN, then a student at University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, received a grant in October 2010 to aid research on 'Talking like a Man: Identity, Socialization, Biology, and the Gendered Voice among Female-to-Male Transsexuals,' supervised by Dr. Kira Hall. As a window into the relationship between gender and the voice, this study combines methods from linguistic anthropology and sociolinguistics to analyze the changing voices of female-to-male transgender people. Fifteen trans men and others on the female-to-male identity spectrum were recorded in a variety of contexts during their first 1-2 years of hormone therapy. Testosterone, which is one of the most popular medical interventions among trans men, can spur dramatic changes in the larynx along with other so-called 'secondary' sex characteristics. By tracking changes in pitch as well as speaking style, this study underscores the intertwined nature of embodiment, socialization, and identity work, which may or may not be aligned in predictable ways. Trans men, who were raised in a female gender role but do not see themselves as women, clearly represent atypical combinations of physiology, early life socialization, and self-defined gender identity. With the marked biological changes that testosterone brings about, these trans speakers also demonstrate the diversity of speaking styles that can be perceived as male-sounding. Ultimately this study shed lights on the inextricable relationship between the body and social practice while simultaneously problematizing the notion that voices can be unproblematically categorized as 'female' or 'male.'