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Transgender Experience - A Tool to Analyze Gender Difference By Stanford Scientist

Ben Barres who has a distinct edge joined the debate with many others to discuss on the focus whether the men's brain suit inherently better for science than women.// Instead of giving a conceptual argument on the similarities and differences among the gender he has lived as both and proved.

Barres' experience as a female-to-male transgendered person led him to write a pointed commentary in the July 13 issue of Nature rebuking the comments of former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers that raised the possibility that the dearth of women in the upper levels of science is rooted in biology. Marshalling scientific evidence as well as drawing from personal experience, Barres maintained that, contrary to Summers' remarks, the lack of women in the upper reaches of research has more to do with bias than aptitude.

"This is a street fight," said Barres, MD, PhD, professor of neurobiology and of developmental biology and of neurology and neurological sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, referring to the gang of male academics and pundits who have attacked women scientists critical of arguments about their alleged biological inferiority.

Where Summers sees innate differences, Barres sees discrimination. As a young woman - Barbara - he said he was discouraged from setting his sights on MIT, where he ended up receiving his bachelor's degree. Once there, he was told that a boyfriend must have solved a hard math problem that he had answered and that had stumped most men in the class. After he began living as a man in 1997, Barres overheard another scientist say, "Ben Barres gave a great seminar today, but his work is much better than his sister's work."

From Barres' perspective the only thing that changed is his ability to cry. Other than the absence of tears, he feels exactly the same. His science is the same, his interests are the same and he feels the quality of his work is unchanged.

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