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Thu May 6, 2021, 06:20 PM

Honoring Dr. Ben Barres

A lot of people are responding to Caitlyn Jenner's recent talk about running for Governor of California and other things that she has had to say in media outlets and interviews.

I'm NOT a fan of Jenner's, but it bugs me that people always swing around to her transgender status in an effort to criticize the many, many stupid and tone deaf things she has to say. Maybe regarding one or two key issues, her status as a person who transitioned from one gender to another is relevant, but most of the negative comments don't relate to her positions or opinions, only on her physical change.

My point of view is that her biggest problem is being a member of the Kardashian Entertainment Troop. They don't sing or dance, but they need your attention so badly that they will do almost anything to get it, including "acting".

That nasty dig of mine leveled, I would like to present for everyone's general edification the story of Dr. Ben Barres. Dr. Barres was born as Barbara and transitioned in 1997. To quote this article from The Stanford Daily, "Barres doesn't like having his picture taken or speaking in public. . ." which makes the late neurobiologist the furthest thing from Caitlyn Jenner that I can imagine.

I first learned of Barres in a Charlie Rose interview (yeah, I know, but I enjoyed many of his broadcasts). Barres spoke of his commitment to supporting women in the sciences. He mentioned how one man came up to him after a lecture and complimented him by saying that he was more impressed by [Ben]Barres's work than his sister, Barbara's,[Barres] work. The fan, of course, had no idea that Ben and Barbara were the same person.

During his appearance on Rose's program, Barres also mentioned how much happier a person he was since he no longer thought about killing himself all the time. That really spoke to me. I am not transgender and other than being overprotected and "under-groomed"* for success as a girl, I haven't suffered from a lot of oppression in my life. But for one reason or another, I have struggled with suicidal ideation for as long as I can remember. It broke my heart that a person could feel so disconnected from their own body and socially constructed identity that they would have preferred to die than live in what to them was somehow an alien form.

Barres's life ended far too soon, at age 63, from cancer. But he did important work as a scientist and he put in the effort to help other scientists achieve their goals. As a former female, he could have shrugged his shoulders and thought, "Not my problem anymore." But he didn't.

He wrote an book, The Autobiography of a Transgender Scientist and I think that perhaps Caitlyn Jenner has read a book? But Jenner does have great hair and looked fabulous in that bustier, so why shouldn't the world know about her rather than Dr. Ben Barres?

(Writer of this post freely admits that she is jealous of Jenner, who--despite being born male and being eight years older--is prettier than her. Writer's petty feelings stem from insecurity and not transphobia.)


* Not precisely a thing, but it kind of is.


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